UAE Unveils First Arab-Built Moon Rover in Historic Launch

UAE Unveils First Arab-Built Moon Rover in Historic Launch

On December 11, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, bringing the first Arab-built moon probe into orbit.

The Rashid Rover was manufactured by Dubai’s Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and is being delivered by the Japanese lunar exploration corporation ispace’s HAKUTO-R lander. If the landing is successful, HAKUTO-R will be the first commercial spacecraft to land on the moon in a controlled manner.

The mission will go to the moon via a low-energy approach and is expected to arrive in April 2023. Once there, the rover will undertake its primary activities on the surface for one lunar day (equal to 14.75 days on Earth). It will spend a second lunar day doing secondary activities to determine if the rover can withstand the harsh nighttime environment on the moon before deactivation.

The rover, which is set to land in the Atlas crater on the moon’s northeast, has been engineered to weather the lunar night, when temperatures may drop to -183°C (-297.4°F).

The Rashid Rover, named after Dubai’s previous ruler, Sheikh Rashid Al Saeed, will investigate plasma on the lunar surface and undertake experiments to learn more about lunar dust. Sharp lunar dust particles may adhere to and damage spacesuits and equipment, leading astronauts to have operational difficulties.

The rover will be solar-powered and will include four cameras, including a tiny and thermal camera.

The launch follows NASA’s Artemis I lunar mission and is the first stage in the UAE’s ambitious moon exploration programme. The Gulf state intends to send numerous spacecraft to the moon, including rovers and orbiters, with a second rover set to launch as early as 2025.

The MBRSC started building the 10kg four-wheel Rashid Rover in 2017. It was created solely by an Emirati team. “The team did an excellent job in initiating and developing the mission,” Hamad Al Marzooqi, project manager of the Emirates Lunar Mission at the MBRSC, told CNN.

The project is also being used by the MBRSC to feed grandiose ambitions for a Mars colony. It hopes to establish the first human colony on Mars by 2117. Al Marzooqi expects the lunar surface expedition will serve as a springboard to Mars.

“We’re beginning small,” he adds, “but we’re hoping that this modest step will ultimately be the starting point for us to achieve our goals.”

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