Weeks after its successful Mars launch earlier this summer, the United Arab Emirates has announced plans to launch its own lunar rover. Assuming everything goes as planned, the UAE will join the US, China, and the former USSR in successfully putting a lander on the Moon. The announcement comes amid renewed interest in our Moon and NASA’s ambitious plan to return humans to the lunar surface by 2024.
The future mission was announced by Dubai’s Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum on Twitter today, with the UAE VP and prime minister explaining that the nation’s lander will probe parts of the Moon that haven’t yet been explored. Putting a lander on the Moon would be a welcomed distinction for the UAE; a few other nations have tried and failed to pull off similar missions.
The tweet reads (machine translation):
We have, with the grace of God, launched a new Emirati project to explore the Moon. It will be an Emirati-made lunar explorer that will land on the surface of the Moon in 2024 in areas not reached by previous human missions to explore.
Additional details on this mission weren’t provided, however, including which company may launch the rover and a more precise launch date. The decision to launch a lunar mission isn’t surprising considering the nation’s growing space efforts and previous successes.
According to Phys.org, the upcoming rover will be named ‘Rashid’ after Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum. The announcement was made public following a closed meeting with state media. Assuming the success of the mission, we’ll see the UAE’s Amal probe arrive at Mars early next year.