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UAE’s moon mission halts as ispace loses contact with spacecraft carrying Rashid Rover

UAE team remains optimistic about achieving future milestones.

UAE’s moon mission halts as ispace loses contact with spacecraft carrying Rashid Rover
[Source photo: Pankaj Kirdatt/Fast Company Middle East]

Japanese firm ispace has lost contact with the HAKUTO-R Mission 1 Lunar Lander carrying the UAE’s Rashid Rover after its planned landing on the Moon yesterday. 

The mission control in Tokyo failed to secure contact with the lander about 30 minutes after its scheduled landing time.

The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) issued a statement on Twitter that ispace engineers had investigated the situation. 

During an earlier live stream, ispace founder and CEO Takeshi Hakamada said, “We established communication until the end of the landing; however, now we lost communication.”

Ispace’s Twitter account later confirmed that it had not landed successfully. Further analysis would be made, according to the post. 

It said, “ispace will continue to make the most of the data and know-how acquired during the operation through Success 8, and landing sequence, including aspects of Success 9, aiming to improve the technological maturity of Mission 2 in 2024 dramatically and Mission 3 in 2025.”

The UAE aimed to become the first Arab country to achieve a lunar landing. 

MBRSC acknowledged the Rashid Rover’s challenges, including lander trajectory deviations, communication loss, harsh landings due to environmental factors, and surface threats.

In an official announcement, MBRSC commended the efforts of mission partner ispace and French space agency CNES for its scientific and technical contribution. 

“While the Rashid Rover and other payloads onboard the lander did not get the chance to continue on their respective missions, the team at MBRSC is still proud of its achievements, including developing a rover and becoming the first Emirati and Arab lunar mission to enter the Moon’s orbit.”

The team remains optimistic about achieving future milestones, adding, “After getting this close to the Moon, the MBRSC team is inspired and believes that greater accomplishments are yet to come in our pursuit of space exploration.”

Lunar missions have had a success rate of 50%, with only the US, the former Soviet Union, and China having successfully made soft lunar landing attempts.

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