The UAE plans to undertake a fresh Moon mission following the presumed crash of a spacecraft that was carrying its Rashid exploratory rover during an attempted lunar landing.
Japanese company iSpace, which had been hoping to complete the first landing on the Moon’s surface by a private firm, said there was a high probability the Hakuto-R lander had been lost.
Communication with the craft was broken just moments before it was due to touch down on Tuesday.
However, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum has revealed that a Rashid 2 lunar mission would now be initiated by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center.
The announcement was made during a visit by Sheikh Mohammed to the center where he met with the Emirati team behind the space program.
Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed pointed out that it was of paramount importance that the UAE pressed ahead with its ambitions to explore new frontiers in space. Despite the unsuccessful attempt to land the Rashid rover on the Moon, he noted that the nation had “kept our aspirations high.”
He told state news agency WAM: “Emiratis have proved their ability to develop advanced space projects and rapidly create a vibrant national space sector.
“The UAE built a space sector from scratch in just 10 years. The Rashid rover mission was driven by the country’s ambitious vision for space exploration.”
Dubai Crown Prince and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al-Maktoum said any space mission came with high levels of risk, but risk could be managed in a scientific and systematic way.
“Under the directives and guidance of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, we have announced the launch of the Rashid 2 project, a new Emirati attempt to reach the Moon.”
Rashid 2 follows the UAE space center’s success in creating the world’s most compact rover and deploying the first Emirati and Arab rover into lunar orbit.
Integrated into Tokyo-based iSpace’s Hakuto-R lander, the Rashid rover was launched by a SpaceX rocket on Dec. 11.
The MBRSC partnered with 10 international and four UAE-based bodies on the Emirati lunar mission science program, and around 40 scientists and researchers were involved in developing the main instruments onboard the Rashid rover.
The compact rover weighs around 10 kilograms and is 80 centimeters high, 53.5 cm long, and close to 54 cm wide.