The UAE’s mission to the moon is on track for launch in November this year. Japan-based ispace inc, which will land the Rashid Rover on the moon, said on Wednesday that its Mission 1 (M1) will blast off on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The UAE’s rover is named after the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, former Ruler of Dubai.
“Upon its deployment from the rocket, the M1 lander will then carry multiple commercial and government payloads including two rovers to the surface of the moon,” the company said.
The company has made “steady progress” in assembling the flight model, which is undergoing final testing now.
“Today, I am pleased to share with you that our launch window has been set for as early as this November,” said Takeshi Hakamada, Founder & CEO of ispace. “We believe Mission 1 will be the turning point in the commercial space exploration. It goes without saying that the technical data and experience gained from Mission 1 are extremely important for future lunar missions around the world, including our Mission 2, to be more reliable.”
The lander is expected to complete testing by September. Once completed, it will be shipped from Germany to the United States before its planned launch.
Final testing will include vibration, thermal vacuum, mass property and functional testing, among others, to prove its readiness for the harsh extremes of space.
The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) had signed a contract with ispace inc to provide payload delivery services for the Emirates Lunar Mission.
Under the terms of the agreement, the Japanese lunar exploration company will deliver the Rashid Rover to the moon, provide wired communication and power during the cruise phase, and engage in wireless communication on the lunar surface.
A successful mission would make the UAE the fourth country globally to land on the moon.
In June this year, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, had confirmed that the Rashid Rover will land on the moon “in the next few months”.
The MBRSC had said last month that the rover would land in an unexplored area called ‘Mare Frigoris’ on the moon. Also known as the ‘Sea of Cold’, Mare Frigoris lies in the far lunar north, according to Nasa. A ‘mare’ is a flat, dark plain on the lunar surface.
The UAE Government Media Office said the rover will capture photos and collect information and data from Mare Frigoris, specifically the Atlas crater area.
The rover can withstand extreme temperatures on the lunar surface, which drops to lows of minus 173 degrees Celsius.
The mission will see the rover collect images and information that allows the UAE to study how to build a human settlement on the moon, prepare for future missions to study Mars, and provide the scientific community with answers about the solar system.
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