Dubai: ‘Rashid’, an Emirati-made lunar rover named after the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, will be launched next year, two years ahead of schedule, with prototype testing to commence this summer.
The announcement was made during a press briefing held on Wednesday by Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) and ispace, a Japanese private lunar robotic exploration company that will transport Rashid to the moon.
Rashid was previously announced to be launched in 2024. The exact landing site is yet to be revealed, but the rover will travel to a part of the moon that has never been reached before. Its mission is to better understand how lunar dust and rocks vary across the moon.
Prototype testing this summer
Dr Hamad Al Marzooqi, project manager of the Emirates Lunar Mission at MBRSC, said more than 50 per cent of the prototype components are ready and testing will commence this summer. “From September to March (next year), we should finish development and testing of the flight model and the rover will be ready for launch by next year.
Takeshi Hakamada, founder and CEO of ispace, did not give a specific date for the launch, but confirmed that Rashid will be one of the payloads that will go to the moon aboard a Space X Falcon rocket before the end of 2022.
UAE lunar mission
Rashid will be equipped with advanced technologies, including a 3D camera, advanced motion system, sensors, a microscope camera and a thermal imaging camera plus a state-of-the-art communication system. Once on the surface of the moon, it will run on solar panels. Its four cameras will move vertically and horizontally. It will also be equipped with sensors and systems to analyse the properties of soil, dust, radioactivity, electrical activities and rocks on the surface of the Moon.
Rashid will have the distinction of being the smallest rover to have landed on the moon. To be built at a height of 70cm, it will be the lightest lunar rover, weighing approximately 10kg with its payload. Rashid’s length is 50cm while width is 50cm.
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