Second lunar rover mission for 2024

The UAE is planning a second attempt to land a lunar rover on the moon after the first failed to land successfully.

Picture: ispace

LUNAR TICKS: Hakuto-R Mission One mission achievements. Picture: ispace

Work in now under way on Rashid 2, a replacement lunar rover. The Japanese Hakuto-R Mission One lander, which carried the Emirati rover and many other international payloads, was launched aboard a SpaceX rocket from the USA in December 2022. Once launched, the spacecraft then took a low-energy route to the moon rather than a direct approach, which meant the journey took about five months.

Hakuto-R attempted a soft touchdown on the moon's surface on April 26, but ran out of fuel at the last moment due to an altitude miscalculation.

If the rover had landed successfully, the UAE would have been the fourth country to reach the moon.

Ispace's investigations showed that faulty software caused its lander to carry out incorrect altitude adjustments, ultimately causing it to run out of fuel just before a soft touchdown was expected.

During the period of descent, ispace said an “unexpected behaviour occurred with the lander’s altitude measurement”. While the lander estimated its own altitude to be zero, or on the lunar surface, it was later determined to be at an altitude of approximately five kms above the lunar surface.

After reaching the scheduled landing time, the lander continued to descend at a low speed until the propulsion system ran out of fuel. At that time, the controlled descent of the lander ceased, and it is believed to have free-fallen to the moon’s surface.

NASA has taken images of the crash site that appear to show some disturbance around where the lander is thought to have crashed onto the lunar surface.

HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, vice president and ruler of Dubai, has instructed MBRSC to work on a second rover. Al Marri said that the engineers are now working on its design and the selection of a landing site.

A launch provider and date have yet to be announced, but ispace says its Mission Two moon lander is scheduled to launch in 2024.

Steve Nichols

Steve Nichols

Steve (BSc Hons, FIIC) is a journalist and communicator with more than 35 years' experience.