In September 2019, the oil-rich country sent the first Emirati into space as part of a three-member crew that blasted off on a Soyuz rocket from Kazakhstan for an eight-day mission.
Then in July, it launched an unmanned spacecraft from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Centre bearing the “Hope” probe destined for Mars, in the Arab world’s first interplanetary mission.
The Emiratis now have their sights on the moon, according to the UAE’s vice president, Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum.
We are launching the first-ever Arab mission to the moon by 2024. The lunar rover will send back images & data from new sites of the moon that haven’t been explored by previous lunar missions. The gathered data will be shared with global research centers & institutions. pic.twitter.com/b4NQ3reLIq
— HH Sheikh Mohammed (@HHShkMohd) September 29, 2020
“We have launched a new Emirati project to explore the moon,” he said on Twitter on Tuesday. “It will be an Emirati-made lunar rover that will land on the surface of the moon by 2024.”
Sheikh Mohammed also said that the rover — named “Rashid” after his father who is credited with modernising Dubai — will cover “areas not yet reached in previous exploration missions”.
The project marks another first for the UAE, making it the first trip to the moon by an Arab country.
Sheikh Mohammed said the lunar mission was part of the country’s space strategy to build new knowledge-based and scientific capabilities.
The Dubai Media Office said that the 10-kilogramme (22 pound) rover will be an integral part of efforts to build the first settlement on Mars in 2117— one of the UAE’s most ambitious plans.