Rashid Rover
Rashid Rover’s core scientific mission is to better understand how lunar dust and rocks vary across the moon. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) today announced the target time of Moon landing for the Japanese lander carrying the Rashid Rover of the UAE’s Emirates Lunar Mission.

MBRSC took to social media to announce that the landing date and time of the HAKUTO-R lander, carrying aboard the Rashid Rover, on the surface of the Moon, is set for April 25 at 8.40pm (UAE time).

“The date is subject to change depending on the mission’s operations. Alternative landing dates are 26 April, May 1, and 3 May,” MBRSC added.

On March 6, Gulf News had first reported the target date for the lunar landing of the first Emirati rover as April 25.

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Salem Humaid Al Marri, director-general of the MBRSC, had revealed this at a Plenary Session during the inaugural day of the 17th International Conference on Space Operations (SpaceOps 2023) in Dubai.

Orbit insertion 

On March 21, MBRSC announced the successful lunar orbit insertion by Rashid Rover.

“The iSpace lander carrying the Rashid Rover performed its first lunar orbit insertion manoeuvre in accordance with the mission operation plan, at 5.24am UAE time on March 21, under the direction of lander engineers,” MBRSC said.

After a controlled burn from the lander’s main propulsion system lasting several minutes, the manoeuvre was successfully completed.

The insertion into lunar orbit is an important step toward the upcoming milestones of the Rashid Rover, beginning with the remaining 5 subsystem checks, MBRSC had added.

What’s next

On Wednesday, MBRSC said the Rashid Rover is currently orbiting the Moon at an altitude of about 100 km at the perilune (periapsis) and about 2,300 km at the apolune (apoapsis). The points in the orbit that is closest to the centre of the moon are called perilune, and the farthest is known as apolune.

At around 7.40pm on April 25, the lander carrying Rashid Rover will perform multiple orbital control manoeuvres to reach a 100 km circular orbit around the Moon before initiating the landing sequence. During the landing sequence, the lander will perform a braking burn, firing its main propulsion system to decelerate from orbit. Utilising a series of pre-set commands, the lander will adjust its altitude and reduce velocity to make a soft landing on the confirmed site of Atlas Crater in the Mare Frigoris.

The ELM team will complete close to a total of 370 minutes of communication with the world’s most compact rover before landing, along with 12 mission rehearsals for surface operations. The mission rehearsals are crucial for the engineering team to be prepared and ready with their programmes for execution post the lunar landing. The rehearsals also enable the different teams on the subsystems to sync their operational work.

The next stage of navigation for HAKUTO-R Mission 1 lunar lander that holds the Rashid Rover includes the completion of all planned lunar orbital control manoeuvres before the landing sequence as well as confirm that the lander is ready to start the landing sequence. In case of any changes in operational conditions, three alternative landing sites, with the next landing opportunities have also been scheduled.

First Arab Lunar Mission

The Emirates Lunar Mission, the first Arab mission to the Moon and the fourth globally, is funded by the ICT Fund of the Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA) which aims to support research and development in the ICT sector in the UAE.

It includes the development and launch of the first Arab Rover to land on the lunar surface to capture photos and collect information and data from "Mare Frigoris", particularly the "Atlas (crater)" area, which will be explored for the first time.

Designed and built by Emiratis, the Rashid Rover was launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, USA, on December 11, 2022.

Weighing just 10kg, the exploration rover aims to study the geography of the lunar surface as well as lunar soil, or regolith. It aims to study the Moon’s plasma and to provide answers about Moon dust, the lunar surface, mobility on the Moon’s surface, and how different surfaces interact with lunar particles.

The rover is safely stored in a special compartment of the lander Hakuto-R. If the lander successfully touches down on the Moon’s surface, it will become the first commercial lander to achieve that feat