20221130 rashid rover
The Rashid Rover, seen here in a file photo during a test run in the UAE desert, will study the lunar soil in an unexplored area during its mission Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The UAE-made Rashid Rover is set for launch to the Moon on Sunday, December 11, at 11.38am (UAE time) aboard a Japanese-made lunar lander that will be sent to space on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, USA.

Dubai Media Office (DMO) tweeted on Saturday: “Tomorrow, the UAE will launch to the Moon on a mission to be completed by the Rashid Rover. Watch the live coverage of the launch at 10:00 AM UAE time: ‪http://mbrsc.ae/lunar. The mission will launch at 11:38 AM UAE time.”

The DMO tweet was accompanied by a one-minute video that says Rashid Rover’s launch is “a day to be carved in history. A day to mark the future.”

Arab pioneer

The success of the first Emirates Lunar Mission (ELM) will make the UAE the first Arab country and among the first countries in the world to land a spacecraft on the Moon, after the United States, former Soviet Union and China.

Once on the moon, Rashid Rover will study the characteristics of lunar soil, the petrography (composition and properties of lunar rocks) and geology of the Moon. It will also take photos of the moon’s dust movement, surface plasma conditions, and the lunar regolith (blanket of superficial deposits covering solid rocks).

According to Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), “Rashid Rover will provide about 10 gigabytes of recorded material, scientific data and new images to the global scientific community to study the Moon and provide fresh data for the development of new technologies that can be used to unravel the origins of the Earth and our solar system.”

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Small but powerful

Designed and developed fully by an Emirati team, Rashid Rover is touted as the world’s most compact rover that could land on the Moon. Its height is 70cm, length is 50cm and width is 50cm. Its weight is approximately 10kg with payload, but it can climb over an obstacle up to 10cm tall and descend a 20-degree slope.

The launch of the Emirati-made compact lunar rover has been postponed thrice – first on November 28; second on November 30, then December 1 – to “allow for additional pre-flight checks of the launch vehicle”.

Rashid Rover is currently safely stored inside Japanese-made lunar lander Hakuto-R M1 (mission 1), which will be carried to space by SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Watch the launch

The historic launch of Rashid Rover will be streamed live by MBRSC on its social media channel, beginning at 10.30am (UAE time). GulfNews.com will also provide minute by minute updates from Dubai.