The first Arab-built lunar spacecraft is on its way to the moon after lifting off from Florida's Cape Canaveral Space Force Station aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
The Rashid Rover, built by Dubai's Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is taking a slow, low-energy route to the moon aboard the HAKUTO-R lander, a product of the Japanese lunar exploration company ispace, according to CNN.
The trip began in mid-December but the spacecraft isn't due to arrive on the moon until April 2023. While it's there the Aarab rover will take one lunar day, equal to 14.75 days on Earth, to conduct main operations. On a second lunar day, the rover will perform further operations to determine if it can survive tough nighttime conditions on the moon, and then will be being decommissioned.
In addition to the UAE making a landmark with its rover, it will be the first commercial spacecraft to achieve a controlled lunar landing, if the mission succeeds.
Plans are for the HAKUTO-R to touch down in the Atlas crater in the northeast part of the moon. The rover is designed to make it through the frigid lunar nights, where temperatures can drop as low as minus-297.4 Fahrenheit or minus-183 degrees Celsius.
The Rashid Rover, solar-powered and equipped with four cameras, was named after the late Sheikh Rashid Al Saeed, the former ruler of Dubai. While on the moon, it will analyze the lunar surface's plasma and conduct experiments on lunar dust.
Sharp particles of lunar dust can cause operational problems for astronauts by sticking to spaceships and equipment.
The launch came just after NASA's Artemis I lunar mission and is the first step of the UAE's fledgling moon exploration program. The UAE plans to send several other vehicles, such as rovers and orbiters to the moon, with a second rover planned for 2025.
Construction of the Rashid Rover, designed by an entirely Emirati team, started in 2017 at the MBRSC as part of its mission for an eventual Mars colony with the first human settlement on the planet by 2117.
Sandy Fitzgerald ✉
Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics.
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