After the successful one-month completion in space, UAE’s prestigious Lunar exploration project, Rashid Rover is gearing up for Landing on the Moon. It has traveled almost 1.34 million kilometers and has completed over 220 minutes of communication with the Emirates Lunar Mission (ELM) team at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC).
The Rashid Rover is unique in a lot of ways as this is the first-ever lunar rover that has been designed and built in the UAE by a team of Emirati engineers and researchers. It took off from Earth on the 11th of December 2022 from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
UAE’s Rashid Rover to reach Moon in April
On the 14th of December, the Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum announced that the Rover had successfully sent its first message to Al Khawaneej space center.
The lunar mission is considered one of the most important milestones in the vision of the wise leaders of the UAE as they aim to take the nation’s space research and exploration to the next level.
After the successful lift-off, Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori, Chairman of the MBRSC said that the whole team at the space center is proud and happy about the success of the lunar mission. They were able to establish communication and straight progress for its first Lunar mission which is considered a major statement about the UAE’s capabilities as a global power.
He also agreed that the mission has an ambitious nature which will definitely present itself with challenges throughout the different phases of the Lunar exploration but these are outweighed by the potential benefits of the mission. This mission is also considered as UAE’s contribution to the scientific progress of the human race as it completely imbibes the innovative spirit of the Emirate nation.
After the launch, the Lunar Mission team has been continuously in contact with the Rover, checking its overall health and maintenance of onboard subsystems and instruments. The Rover was powered on for ten minutes daily in the two weeks after the launch and now the team has been contacting it weekly once.
The landing of the Rashid Rover on the moon will be a historic moment for the UAE and its citizens. The UAE will be the fourth country to land on the surface of the moon following other nations like Russia, the USA, and China. Even though India had also landed its Chandrayaan-1 on the moon, it was an impact landing rather than a soft landing. The Rover will be reaching a distance of 1.4 million kilometers by January 20, which is one of the farthest points from Earth for the Rover and the total cruise time is about 4 months.
The ELM team is now preparing for the Entry, Descent, and Landing (EDL) phase and surface operations through which they are hoping to achieve a soft landing for the Rashid Rover. In order to prepare for the landing phase, around twelve simulated missions rehearsals will be conducted at the MBRSC ground station so that the team would be prepared for the landing by the end of April.
The rehearsals will also allow the engineers to properly test the subsystems and the programs that need to be executed post-landing.
Once the Rover has successfully landed on the moon’s surface, it will conduct multiple scientific tests which will be beneficial in the field of robotics, communication technology, and science in general. The contributions of this space mission are so large that it doesn’t limit itself to just the space sector but also to other important sectors of the UAE and the global economy.
UAE’s space exploration journey started way back in 1973 when the founding father of UAE Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan met Astronauts of the Apollo missions to understand and listen to their experiences traveling to space. Former US president Richard Nixon gifted a piece of moon rock acquired during the Apollo 17 mission and this moon rock is now kept in the Al Ain Museum as a symbol of human unity.
Decades after, in 2006, UAE started to chart out its knowledge transfer programs for its ambitious goal of colonizing Mars. In 2009, UAE launched its first satellite DubaiSat 1 which was built by the Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology (EIAST) collaborating with a South Korean satellite manufacturing company Satrec Initiative.
Following this, UAE has been constantly planning and executing multiple space missions like the Mars 2117 strategy that seeks to build a human colony on Mars in the next hundred years and the latest being the 2022 Rashid rover-led Lunar mission.
This mission is funded by the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Fund under the Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA) which seeks to foster and support various research and development projects in the UAE.