The UAE in collaboration with Japanese startup iSpace and Elon Musk’s SpaceX have successfully launched the Arab world’s first mission to the Moon using the first ever Arab-built lunar spacecraft, the Rashid Rover earlier today from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The launch, the first of its kind carried out by a private company was carried out by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and delivered by the HAKUTO-R lander. The Rashid Rover, named after the former ruler of Dubai, the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al-Maktoum was built by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRC) and the Tokyo-based firm.
“Our first mission will lay the groundwork for unleashing the moon’s potential and transforming it into a robust and vibrant economic system,” iSpace’s CEO, Takeshi Hakamada, said in a statement.
If the mission is successful, the UAE will join Russia, the US and China in being the only countries so far to have achieved so-called “soft landings” on the moon. The US remains the only country to have put astronauts on the lunar surface.
According to the Space website, after deploying from Hakuto-R, “Rashid will take photos with a variety of cameras and characterize the moon’s curious, electrically charged surface environment. Its mission is expected to last one lunar day, which is about 14 Earth days.”
Speaking to Khaleej Times, Abdulla Al Shehhi, the rover mechanical engineering lead said: “This is the first mission to the moon. The launch today is one of the critical stages. We will get the first signal from the lander and after that we will get the first signal from the rover.”
“That will depend on the lander orbital orientation. Currently we are very excited. The team here is ready to receive any signals. We have checked all the systems, we are very excited. It will be the first time the UAE lands on the moon so it is definitely a very big step for us.”
The mission launch was postponed for a second time earlier this month due to additional pre-flight checks of the launch vehicle. Last year the UAE made history by becoming the first Arab country to launch a mission to Mars.