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UAE’s Rashid rover launch postponed

The mission will also see the first spacecraft funded and built by a private Japanese firm to land on the moon.

The UAE’s lunar mission has been postponed for the second time on early Thursday, SpaceX said.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Hakuto-R Mission 1 lander, with the UAE’s Rashid rover inside it, was due to blast off at 12.37 pm UAE time.

The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) in a tweet this morning said, “SpaceX announced a stand down from today’s launch of the Falcon 9 rocket, carrying abroad the Rashid Rover, after inspections of the launch vehicle and data review. A new target launch date will be confirmed.”

“After further inspections of the launch vehicle and data review, we’re standing down from tomorrow’s launch of ispace inc.’s HAKUTO-R Mission 1,” said SpaceX in a statement.

A new launch date will be shared in the coming days, the company added.

Once launched, the integrated spacecraft will take a low-energy route to the moon rather than a direct approach, which means the landing will take about five months after launch, in April 2023.

The four-wheel rover, which was built by a small team of Emiratis at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre in Dubai, will spend a lunar day – the equivalent to 14 Earth days – on the Moon’s surface to study its geology and lunar dust.