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UAE hires Japanese firm to launch its Moon rover in 2022

Published Apr 14th, 2021 8:22PM EDT
lunar rover
Image: NASA

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A whole lot of science news has been focused on Mars as of late, and for good reason, but let’s not forget that Earth’s own moon still has many secrets left to unlock. The Moon is still the only other natural object in space that humans have ever visited in person, and while those missions provided humanity with a greater understanding of it and a whole lot of Moon rocks, there’s still a ton that we just don’t know about it.

Moon missions have been happening at a fairly rapid pace of late, with China ramping up its space exploration efforts and using the Moon as its first target. Now, researchers and engineers from Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) in Dubai, UAE, are poised to send their own robotic rover to the Moon, and they’re going to do it with the help of a Japanese aeronautics company and a rocket built by SpaceX.

As CNN reports, a company called ispace (yes, it’s all lower case for some reason) has reached a deal with the space center located in Dubai to send its rover to the Moon. What’s perhaps even more interesting is that this mission is going to be conducted far sooner than the team had ever hoped.

According to the report, MBRSC initially planned on launching its rover no earlier than 2024 and had planned on that date ahead of time. Then, ispace came along and offered the opportunity to launch in 2022 and despite a relatively dramatic two-year shortcut, the group agreed. The mission will focus largely on the material that covers the Moon’s surface, called regolith, as well as Moondust. Discoveries made during the mission and advancements that result from those discoveries could result in new spacesuits for human astronauts that travel to the lunar surface in the future.

As cool as this lunar rover mission is, it pales in comparison to the goals that the UAE has in its sights. The nation launched a Mars probe mission in 2020 and entered orbit around the planet in just a couple of months ago. Eventually, the UAE wants to put people on the Red Planet as well, and it even has a rough estimate of when that might be possible. The UAE currently forecasts the year 2117 as being doable for a crewed mission to Mars, and it hopes to build a settlement on the planet over time.

Guessing what technology will exist in 100 years is a fool’s errand, but the country has been hitting all of its targets as of late and seems poised to make a very serious push into space exploration. We’ll have to wait and see how it all pans out, but so far things are looking good.