The United Arab Emirates’ Rashid Rover, the first Emirati mission to the moon surface, has been integrated onto a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket for its historic launch on Wednesday.
The four-wheel rover has undergone its final integration process with the launch vehicle – the Hakuto-R Mission 1 lander – which will launch from a spaceport at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida at 12:39 pm UAE time.
Residents across the UAE will be able to watch the launch online which will be streamed live by SpaceX. It marks the UAE’s first Moon mission, with more rovers to be developed in the future.
The Rashid rover – built by Emirati engineers from the UAE’s Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) – is to be sent to regions of the Moon unexplored by humans.
Watch the live coverage of the launch of Rashid Rover, the first Emirati Mission to the surface of the Moon, from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Wednesday 30 November at 10:30 AM UAE Time.
The mission will launch at 12:39 PM UAE time.
As part of the Emirates Lunar Mission, the 10-kilogram robotic explorer will send back images and collect data on lunar soil and dust once it reaches the lunar surface.
Over the last five months, the rover was exposed to a series of rigorous internal and external reviews.
The reviews were designed to test out every one of the multitudes of systems and subsystems of the rover during the launch stage, cruise stage, and descent stage.
At the beginning of the year, the ELM rover completed the assembly and first set of full functional tests of the flight model in the laboratories of MBRSC. This phase of testing included assessments of all the functionality of the hardware and software within all the possible on-surface (lunar) scenarios.
This phase also included a heavy vibration test of the model at the EDGE’s Electro-Optics Centre of Excellence (EOCE) laboratories based in Abu Dhabi.
In the second phase, the Rashid rover completed a series of environmental tests in Toulouse, France.
This included two sections of the evaluation: The first was the final thermal and vacuum tests within the Airbus facility, in which the Rover was heated and cooled to simulate the pressures and temperatures of its journey through space and on the Moon’s surface.
The second and last section of the environmental tests included rigorous vibration and shock checks of the flight model at the CNES Labs.
For this, the rover was shaken on a vibration table simulating the environment the rover will encounter during the launch atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket as well as be subjected to the same shocks it will experience decelerating in the lunar atmosphere, the intense impact of deployment and touchdown.
The tests campaign concluded in Germany with the final phase of checks on the interfaces with the space lander that will safely deliver the rover to the Moon’s surface. This phase also included instrument alignment checks, such as imaging systems, and a final functional test of the integrated system following the environmental campaign.
Dr. Hamad al-Marzooqi, Project Manager of the Emirates Lunar Mission, said earlier this year: “MBRSC can’t wait to see Rashid rover begin its long-awaited flight to the moon. The science and technology of this mission are going to help us address major questions about the geologic and surface science of the moon that we’ve been working on for years, and we’re excited to share our journey with the world.”
The primary goal of the mission is 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.