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UAE-built Rashid rover blasts off towards the moon

The Rashid Rover was launched into space on a Space X rocket WAM
The Rashid Rover was launched into space on a Space X rocket

The UAE-built Rashid rover, the first Emirati mission to the surface of the moon, lifted off on board a Space X Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on Sunday.

The UAE is set to become the first Arab country and the fourth country in the world to make a soft landing on the lunar surface, after the United States, Soviet Union and China, according to the state-owned WAM news agency.

The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre said the integrated spacecraft would take a low-energy route to the moon rather than a direct approach, which means the landing will take place in about five months, in April 2023.

“The Rashid rover is part of the United Arab Emirates’ ambitious space programme,” said Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the vice president and prime minister of the UAE and the ruler of Dubai, who watched the launch at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre.

“Our aim is knowledge transfer and developing our capabilities and to add a scientific imprint in the history of humanity,” he tweeted.

The Rashid rover will be transported to the moon on a lunar lander made by a Japanese company, ispace.

Next spring, around the time the rover is due to make its soft landing, Emirati astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi is scheduled to begin a six-month mission on the International Space Station.