Japanese lunar exploration company ispace has built the lander that will deliver the Emirati-built Rashid rover to the lunar surface.
Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centres (MBRSC) Rashid Rover is now scheduled to launch on November 22, 2022.
Built by Emirati minds, the rover will be launched on SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The rover is integrated into the Japanese Mission 1 Hakuto R lander, developed by ispace Inc. Once launched, the journey to the moon will take about three-four months.
Commenting on the announcement, Salem AlMarri, Director General of MBRSC, said: “The countdown begins for the nations much-awaited mission Emirates Lunar Mission. With the launch target of November 22 or later, we will create history. We will witness the launch of the Rashid Rover, bringing us closer to our big goal: Exploring the surface of the Moon and offering novel data to the scientific community.”
With around 20 days until the launch, the Emirates Lunar Mission team has spent time rehearsing their roles and individual surface goals for when the landing day will take the centre stage.
The two-day rehearsal used the qualification model which is similar in size and capability to the Rashid Rover. The similarities between the Rover’s qualification and flight models are enough that commanding it in complex realistic terrain will present similar challenges as the Rashid Rover on the Moon. This is an important final step in preparing the ground teams and systems for the November 22 or later departure towards the Moon.
Dr Hamad AlMarzooqi Emirates Lunar Mission Project Manager added: “With the announcement of the new launch date, we can now focus on the rover’s launch and landing phases. We hosted trial sessions to prepare our engineering team on how to remotely conduct scientific and geology research using the Rover. The model of the Rover for the rehearsal is similar to the flight model that will be carried by the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in November. The test rover has received and executed daily commands via satellite communications and has successfully completed the mission control rehearsal.”
The Emirates Lunar Mission core team or mission controllers worked in the Centre’s Main Control Room during the rehearsal, operating the actual mission control systems and ground tracking stations that will be used across four defined stages.
The command stages started with the issue mast deployment command which moved the mast from the horizontal position to the vertical position which is an important command for the success of the mission. This was followed by the issue antenna deployment command that activated the strength and capacity of the communication system. The third command includes the Drive off commands that prepares the movement of the rover and prepares the team for any communication time delay between Earth and the Moon. The mission control rehearsal concluded with the simulated image captures that activated the rover camera functionality on the surface of the Moon.
AlMarzooqi concluded: “We have progressively improved our understanding of how the rover and ground systems interact, and our teams have mastered Moon surface operations. We have completed this phase of the rehearsal and everything we have learned will help us complete the mission on the Moon’s surface.”