Abu Dhabi: Rashid Rover, the first Emirati rover to touch down on the moon’s surface, has successfully made it to the lunar orbit as per the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC). The rover is now just one step away from making history.
The iSpace lander carrying the Rashid Rover performed its first lunar orbit insertion manoeuvre in accordance with the mission operation plan, at 5.24 AM UAE time on 21st March 2023, under the direction of lander engineers. After a controlled burn from the lander’s main propulsion system lasting several minutes, the manoeuvre was successfully completed.
We are proud of the UAE’s newest space achievement.The lunar lander carrying the Rashid Rover has safely entered the moon’s orbit taking us a step closer to a lunar landing. The support of our leadership & the dedication of our youth continue to drive our space ambitions forward pic.twitter.com/PLLLQ2BfY6
— Hamdan bin Mohammed (@HamdanMohammed) March 21, 2023
The insertion into lunar orbit is an important step toward the upcoming milestones of the Rashid Rover, beginning with the remaining 5 subsystem checks. The completion of all lunar orbital manoeuvres prior to the beginning of the landing sequence is scheduled to be announced around late April 2023. Specific information on the date and time of the landing will be announced in the upcoming few days.
Post the successful completion of the first milestone that is the Launch and Early Orbit Phase (LEOP), and the second milestone the cruise phase, Rashid Rover is now on its way to completing the third milestone – the Arrival Phase (Entry, Descent, and Landing). This will be the most intense of all, as the lander will have to land on the lunar surface based on its system’s calculation to stay on course for a specific landing spot on the moon.
The next is the Deployment, Commissioning and Drive-off phase. Once the Lander has landed on the lunar surface, deployment, commissioning and drive-off command sessions will begin. Following completion of the post-landing checkout, instrument commissioning and initial data collection will begin. Following that is the Nominal Surface Operations phase, which is the mission itself. For 10-12 days, the Rashid rover will conduct continuous surface research and image capture.
The final two phases after the lunar day are hibernation and last decommissioning. The rover prepares for the lunar night. When the secondary communication is activated, all information captured is downloaded and every effort is made to ensure that no information is missed, before the hibernation phase. The chances of the rover restarting are slim, however, if the rover is activated after the lunar night then the mission will be extended to operate throughout the second lunar night which will end by the decommissioning phase.
This ambitious mission undertaken by the UAE to study the surface of the moon is considered a gateway for future exploration of other planets. The mission is funded by the ICT Fund of the Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA) which aims to support research and development in the ICT sector in the UAE.