Sheikh Mohammed visited MBR Space Centre to witness the launch of Rashid Rover
Sheikh Mohammed visited MBR Space Centre to witness the launch of Rashid Rover Image Credit: Twitter/@HHShkMohd

Dubai: His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, today visited the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre to witness the launch of Rashid Rover, the Arab world's first mission to the Moon.

Tweeting on the occasion, Sheikh Mohammed said: “Rashid Rover is part of an ambitious space program in the UAE. We started with Mars and now moving to the moon while eying Venus. Our goal is to share knowledge, develop our capabilities, and add a scientific footprint in human history,”.

"Reaching the moon is yet another step forward in the UAE's ambitious journey. The aspirations of Emirati people are boundless and nothing can hold them back. The best is still to come,” said Sheikh Mohammed.

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"The UAE launched Rashid Rover today in preparation for a lunar landing. We will be the fourth nation in the world and the first Arab country to set foot on the moon's surface if the mission is successfully completed”, Sheikh Mohammed tweeted.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched on December 11 from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, carrying into space the first ever Arab-built lunar spacecraft.

The Rashid Rover was built by Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), and is being delivered by the Hakuto-R lander, engineered by Japanese lunar exploration company ispace. If the landing is successful, Hakuto-R will also become the first commercial spacecraft ever to make a controlled landing on the moon.

The mission is taking a low energy route to the moon and is due to arrive around April 2023. Once there, the rover will spend one lunar day (equivalent to 14.75 days on Earth) on the surface, conducting its main operations. It will spend a second lunar day conducting secondary operations, to check whether the rover will survive the moon’s tough nighttime environment, before decommissioning.

The Rashid Rover, named after the late Sheikh Rashid Al Saeed, the former ruler of Dubai, will analyze the plasma on the lunar surface and conduct experiments to understand more about lunar dust. Razor-sharp lunar dust particles can stick to and erode spacesuits and equipment, causing operational problems for astronauts.

During his visit, Sheikh Mohammed was accompanied by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, and Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai.