The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is set to launch its first ‘Arab Moon Mission’ in 2024. Under this mission, the UAE is about to send a rover to the moon. The rover will be named after Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum of Dubai. This lunar rover will be named ‘Rashid’ after the late Sheikh Rashid to honor him for his vision for the development of Dubai. This will be the first lunar rover of the UAE.
The oil-rich UAE has created a nuclear power program, sent humans into space, also sent a spacecraft that is currently trekking to Mars. Now it will then join an elite club by launching a lunar rover on the moon.
The Soviet Union was the first country to land a rover on the moon, which first launched the Luna 9 rover on the lunar surface in the year 1966. Other than that, only China and the United States have been able to get a soft landing on the moon. If the UAE succeeds in landing a rover on the moon, it will be the fourth such country after the US, Soviet Union and China.
The UAE’s Mars mission ‘Hope’ was launched on a Japanese rocket on 20 July this year. This lunar mission of the UAE will be equipped with many scientific equipment, including two cameras or high-resolution optical imagers. This rover will study the surface of the moon, mobility there and how other elements are affected with the elements of the moon.
According to the report, Adnan Alrais of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC) of the UAE stated that ‘there are many scientific objectives behind this mission that will help us understand the moon better’. He said that ‘With this, it will also be helpful in our plans to send humans to Mars in future and build settlements on Mars’.
Reportedly, AlRais led the agency’s MARS 2117 program, which was created in 2017 to target humans landing on Mars within a century. As part of its plan, the UAE is developing a ‘Mars Science City’ in the desert. Also practicing in Red Planet missions at analog facilities, among other activities.
Meanwhile, the country’s astronaut program is selecting two new astronauts. The UAE currently has two astronauts, one of whom spent a week at the International Space Station in 2019, and has recently been sent to NASA’s Johnson Space Center for additional training.
All these activities are going on in the country’s space program while the UAE is preparing for the orbital arrival of the Hope spacecraft on Mars in February. For a space program less than two decades old, the newly-announced lunar mission marks a path beyond the current focus areas of Earth-observation satellites, manned spacecraft and Mars exploration.