United Arab Emirates are launching thier first journey to the moon.
Emirati engineers have begun work on the first Arab mission to the Moon – a landmark project that is expected to contribute to global efforts to build a lunar space station.
The engineering model for the Rashid rover, a 10 kilogram robotic machine, are being designed and will be finalised next year.
US space agency Nasa is leading the Lunar Gateway project that will see the establishment of a human base on the Moon to make deep space missions possible, particularly sending astronauts to Mars.
This is a shared goal by the UAE, which plans to send Emirati astronauts to the Red Planet and build a city there by the year 2117.
“Why the Moon?” Adnan Al Rais, programme director of Mars 2117, asked during a media briefing on Sunday. “The global exploration road map which was set by international agencies agreed that in order to send future missions to Mars, we need to first send humans to the Moon through a project called Lunar Gateway.
“Developing those technologies will help us in future to reach our goal. The UAE is contributing with this robotic mission that will be launched.”
Mr Al Rais said Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre is yet to sign a contract with a launch service provider to send Rashid to space in 2024. Nasa’s crewed Artemis mission will also launch in 2024 and aims to put the first woman and next man on the lunar surface. Artemis 1, an unmanned mission to the Moon, is launching in 2021 as an initial step towards that goal.
Nasa has previously encouraged nations to invest in the project and “get a ride” on the 2024 mission However, it is not yet confirmed if UAE has signed any agreements.
So far, Japan, Italy and Australia have invested in Nasa’s efforts to establish a human base on the Moon.
Because of the harsh lunar surface, Rashid will also study mobility and help determine what hi-tech solutions are needed for smoother transportation.
Emirati scientists are currently studying unexplored regions of the Moon and where Rashid could potentially land.
“There were a handful of missions that were sent, but it will study new territories where we can provide valuable scientific data to the international community,” said Dr Al Marzooqi.
More than 55 per cent of Moon landing missions have failed and only the US, China and the Soviet Union have been able to land rovers there.
UAE could become the fourth country to achieve the feat, however, Japan is planning to send a lander to the Moon by 2022.
“It’s very challenging to land a mission on the lunar surface,” said Dr Al Marzooqi. “This is one of the key challenges we’d have to overcome to have a successful mission.”
We are launching the first-ever Arab mission to the moon by 2024. The lunar rover will send back images & data from new sites of the moon that haven’t been explored by previous lunar missions. The gathered data will be shared with global research centers & institutions.