Japanese space company, iSpace, has announced that it will transport a United Arab Emirates (UAE) rover to the moon in 2022, as the UAE pushes for an expansion into the space exploration and telecommunications industries as its seeks to diversify its economy.
Previously officials from the UAE said it plans to develop its space program in order to spur the country’s scientific and technology efforts, with a long-term view on creating new industries so that the country can reduce its reliance on oil.
According to the iSpace announcement, the Rashid lunar rover will be designed entirely by Emiratis and will be carried into space in 2022, two years ahead of the original launch date of 2024.
iSpace, founded in 2010, aims has a long-term mission, which is to incorporate the moon into earth’s economy. In order to fund its long-term goals, the company is providing commercial transportation.
The 2022 UAE rover launch to the moon will be iSpace's first mission of this kind and will use a Falcon 9 rocket from Elon Musk's SpaceX, to be launched from Florida.
Dubai's Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC) will build the Rashid lunar rover and will manage the data collection aspects of the rover’s mission.
Takeshi Hakamada, Founder and CEO of iSpace described the mission and said that the SpaceX rocket will deliver an iSpace lander to the moon's orbit. The lander will propel itself to the moon's surface and the UAE rover will then emerge from the lander and drive off to explore the moons surface and collect data, which will be sent back to the UAE.
iSpace said that it will also provide the UAE’s Lunar Mission with wired communication and power during the cruise phase and wireless communication on the moon and that its lander will be carrying a solid-state battery designed by Japanese company NGK Spark Plug, which will be tested in the lunar environment.