Dr. Hamad Al Marzouki, Director of the Emirates Moon Exploration Project, to « AL JUNDI» : «Rashid» Moon Explorer Emirati made 100%

Dr‭. ‬Hamad Al-Marzouqi‭, ‬director of the Emirates Moon Exploration Project‭, ‬told Al Jundi Journal that the Emirati‭ “‬Rashid‭”, ‬Explorer‭, ‬the first scientific Arab mission to explore the moon‭, ‬will study new sites for the first time on its surface‭, ‬while it will be designed and developed by 100%‭ ‬Emirati citizens at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center‭, ‬while female Emirati engineers represent 35%‭ ‬of the work team‭. ‬Explorer launch will be in 2024‭. ‬Dr‭. ‬Al-Marzouqi‭  ‬Pointed out that the mission comes as confirmation of the UAE’s scientific leadership in space‭, ‬science and research‭, ‬enhancing the competitiveness of space industry sector in the UAE regionally and globally‭, ‬and designing technologies that enable UAE to send human missions to Mars in future‭.‬

National strategy

Dr‭. ‬Al-Marzouqi‭  ‬added in detail that the project comes within the framework of the‭ “‬Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center Strategy 2021-2031‭” ‬and the National Space Strategy 2030‭, ‬and it stems from specific scientific goals‭, ‬including the development of robotic technologies for exploration vehicle systems‭, ‬and the study of new sites for the first time on the surface of the moon‭, ‬in addition to study and analysis of dust‭, ‬while tasks of‭ “‬Rashid‭,” ‬the Explorer include conducting tests to study various aspects of‭ ‬the moon surface‭, ‬including the lunar soil‭, ‬thermal properties of surface structures‭, ‬the lunar photoelectric envelope‭, ‬plasma and optoelectronic measurements‭, ‬and dust particles located above the luminous part of the moon surface‭.‬

He added that the Emirati Explorer will travel the surface of the moon‭, ‬traveling in new locations that have not been previously‭ ‬studied before‭, ‬where it will capture rare data and images‭, ‬which are planned to reach more than 1000‭ ‬images‭, ‬and then send them to the ground control station at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center‭, ‬and test devices and technical equipment that are being‭ ‬tried for the first time‭, ‬related to robotics‭, ‬communications‭, ‬mobility and navigation‭.‬

Dubai Builder

Al-Marzouqi mentioned that the Explorer was called‭ “‬Rashid‭” ‬in honor of the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum‭, ‬the builder‭ ‬of modern Dubai‭, ‬and it will conduct many scientific tests that contribute to making qualitative developments in the fields of‭ ‬science and technology‭, ‬communication technologies‭, ‬robots‭, ‬and many other sectors‭, ‬such as the technological industries sector‭,‬‭ ‬the telecommunications sector‭, ‬and other related sectors‭.‬

He explained that the national cadres team of engineers and researchers at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center will work to complete the development of the engineering design by 2021‭, ‬provided that the engineering model will be manufactured in 2022‭, ‬and then the initial experiments and tests to develop the prototype will be conducted in 2023‭, ‬while the launch of the moon Explorer‭ ‬will be in 2024‭, ‬another time record which will be added to the achievements of the UAE in space‭.‬

He indicated that‭ “‬Rashid‭” ‬is distinguished by a number of high-quality and efficient technical advantages and specifications‭, ‬as it will be equipped with high-quality cameras with scientific and technical uses‭, ‬including two main cameras‭, ‬one of which is‭ ‬controlled vertically and horizontally‭, ‬a microscope camera‭, ‬a thermal imaging camera‭, ‬a suspension system‭, ‬advanced sensor and‭ ‬communication systems‭, ‬an external structure and solar panels to provide it with energy‭, ‬explaining that it will work by relying‭ ‬on solar panels‭, ‬in addition to sensors and systems equipped to analyze the properties of soil‭, ‬dust‭, ‬radioactive and electrical activities‭, ‬and rocks‭, ‬and it will also include a system to enhance the efficiency of the Explorer’s wheels adherence to the surface of the moon‭, ‬and to facilitate the process of overcoming natural barriers‭, ‬and a sturdy structure to protect devices and‭ ‬motors from changing temperatures‭.‬

Aerospace industries

Al-Marzouki pointed out that there are many challenges facing Rashid’s mission‭, ‬related to the difficult environment on the surface of the moon‭, ‬as it is characterized by an environment harder than‭ ‬Mars‭, ‬in which the temperature reaches minus 173‭ ‬degrees Celsius‭, ‬in addition to the difficult lunar soil characteristics and the thermal properties of the structures‭, ‬surface‭, ‬and other factors that may pose challenges to the Explorer mission‭, ‬stressing‭ ‬that the focus of the scientific team of experts and engineers is to develop an Explorer capable of overcoming potential obstacles‭, ‬which include the difficulty of landing on the surface of the moon‭, ‬which is considered one of the most difficult space exploration missions‭, ‬due to the accuracy that it is required for the success of the operation‭, ‬as the success rate is only 45%‭.‬

He also pointed out that this project will support the UAE’s efforts to promote the space industry sector in the region‭, ‬develop it and enable it to contribute to making the future with innovative Emirati minds and arms‭, ‬prepare and qualify them in the field of outer space exploration‭, ‬explaining that through this‭ ‬project‭, ‬the UAE is adding a new chapter in the history of space missions to the moon‭, ‬and to enter history in the race of minds‭, ‬to confirm the position of the our beloved country and its reputation in the service of mankind‭, ‬and to strengthen its vision‭ ‬of leading an Arab scientific renaissance in the region‭, ‬and making it a destination for scholars and researchers‭.‬

Scientific inquiries

He stated that the Explorer will be developed at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center‭, ‬while there will be cooperation with an international partner that will be chosen during the coming period‭, ‬to support‭ “‬Rashid‭” ‬in the process of landing on the surface‭ ‬of the moon‭, ‬indicating that the importance of the project stems from the existence of scientific inquiries about the moon that‭ ‬have not been revealed them so far‭, ‬while the scientific community is looking for answers that explain them‭. ‬This community has‭ ‬conducted careful studies of various previous missions of the moon‭, ‬to identify their results‭, ‬and therefore the task of the Emirati Explorer will start from where the others ended‭, ‬so that it is a real and strong addition to the global science community as well as learning about the extent of its needs with regard to new space technologies‭.‬

He explained that the UAE mission to explore the moon depends in its details and scientific objectives on the achievements of the previous missions‭, ‬especially that there is a global map for the exploration of outer space‭, ‬which aims to enhance scientific‭ ‬exchange between countries and reach new horizons of discoveries in space science‭.‬

New technology

Al-Marzouki warned that every space mission has its own peculiarities‭, ‬and that is why we need to develop our own new technology‭ ‬that suits the nature of our mission‭. ‬Our engineers and all Emirati involved in this mission depend on the continuous development of technology in this regard to reduce the proportion of risks‭, ‬and it is necessary to understand the risks in such tasks‭, ‬in‭ ‬order to avoid them and take advantage of the errors that caused the failure of previous missions‭, ‬especially as they aim to reach to Mars‭, ‬and building a human settlement on its surface‭, ‬and that reaching the moon is an important station‭, ‬for designing and developing technologies that enable us in the future to send human missions to Mars‭.‬

He stressed that the Emirati Explorer will land in an area that has not been tested by any of the previous moon exploration missions‭, ‬and then the data and images that it will provide will be modern‭, ‬new‭, ‬and of high value‭. ‬While‭ “‬Rashid‭” ‬will‭,  ‬during the‭ ‬experiment‭, ‬represent an ideal platform for testing new technologies and equipment that will be used in future space exploration missions‭, ‬including Mars‭, ‬it will collect data related to scientific issues‭, ‬such as the origin of the solar system‭, ‬our planet and life‭.‬

Various tests

He added that the landing on the surface of the moon will allow testing the exposure of sensors and other technologies to the space environment for long periods‭, ‬and testing new technologies‭, ‬because the moon is the best environment for such tests and the‭ ‬closest to Earth‭, ‬which will help to test the capabilities of the UAE before embarking on manned exploration missions to Mars‭, ‬especially the project is a pivotal step that paves the way for the realization of the‭ “‬Mars 2117‭ ‬Strategy‭”, ‬and will provide answers and information that define the course of their mission to explore the Red Planet‭.‬

And he added that the UAE project to explore the moon will certainly be again a pivotal step that paves the way for the realization of the‭ “‬Mars 2117‭ ‬strategy‭”, ‬as the project will provide information that will help them in their mission to explore Mars‭, ‬and benefit human knowledge‭. ‬The plan for the Explorer is to send pictures of the landing on the surface of the moon‭, ‬the first surface images‭, ‬and night photos of the Earth‭, ‬thermal imaging‭, ‬and self images‭, ‬in addition to sending navigation data‭, ‬which includes flight time‭, ‬surface terrain data on the surface of the moon‭, ‬inertial measurement unit‭ (‬IMU‭) ‬data‭, ‬temperatures‭, ‬and energy consumption‭. ‬All of these outputs pave the way for the successful Mars exploration project‭.‬

National cadres

He stressed that with regard to the qualification of national cadres‭, ‬the project is an ideal opportunity to qualify more Emiratis in this sector‭, ‬and to give them more experience and skills‭, ‬in order to enable them to lead larger tasks in the future‭. ‬This‭ ‬will be achieved greatly during the work on building the Explorer‭. ‬As for inspiring the new generations‭, ‬the many Emirati achievements in space sector have become an important incentive for many to join this sector to serve their country and raise its banner high‭, ‬especially that the‭ ‬“Emirates Moon Exploration Project”‭ ‬falls within the‭ ‬“Mars 2117”‭ ‬strategy initiatives aimed at building the first human settlement on Mars‭, ‬while the project is directly funded by the Communications and Information Technology Development Fund‭, ‬the financing arm of the UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority‭. ‬

Interviewed by: Razi ELhadmi – ‬Photography by‭: ‬Mohammed Al Shaer

Al Jundi

Please use portrait mode to get the best view.