UAE’s Moon rover passes final tests before heading to outer space

The United Arab Emirate’s Rashid rover – which is to be sent to regions of the Moon unexplored by humans – has cleared all tests, pushing the mission one step closer to its launch into outer space.

As part of the Emirates Lunar Mission, the 10-kilogram robotic explorer – which has been built in the UAE by Emirati engineers working with the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) – will send back images and collect data on lunar soil and dust once it reaches the Red Planet.

The mission is expected to launch from a spaceport in Cape Canaveral, Florida, next month on board a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

“Congratulations to the ELM team that worked tirelessly to get Rashid Rover ready for the launch,” said Salem AlMarri, Director General of MBRSC. “The lunar mission will engineer a new scientific reality for Emiratis and pave the way for more space exploration missions by MBRSC.”

“This mission also exemplifies the nation’s spirit of innovation and scientific progress, while also contributing to global space science research and explorations.”

Over the last four months, the rover was exposed to a series of rigorous internal and external reviews, state news agency WAM reported Thursday.

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.

The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre's Rashid rover, the UAE’s first mission to the lunar surface, officially cleared all required tests, pushing the mission one step closer to its launch pad rollout and liftoff. (Supplied)
The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre’s Rashid rover, the UAE’s first mission to the lunar surface, officially cleared all required tests, pushing the mission one step closer to its launch pad rollout and liftoff. (Supplied)

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 ispace 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 AlMarzooqi, Project Manager of the Emirates Lunar Mission added: “MBRSC can’t wait to see Rashid rover begin its long-awaited flight to the moon. We are now all cleared and ready for the next step, which is the launch vehicle integration process, which is the final stage of our lunar mission before launch.”

“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.”

Rashid Rover is now ready for the final integration process with the launch vehicle before its launch window of November 9 – 15, 2022.

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.

Source: Al Arabiya


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