The UAE aims to land its Rashid rover on the Moon by hitching a ride on a Japanese mission next year.
The Arab world’s first Moon mission was announced in 2020, with an initial launch date of 2024.
Now, the Emirates has unveiled a new partnership to bring its lunar ambitions forward by two years.
A deal with Japan’s iSpace means the rover will be loaded on board its lander, which will be launched into space aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Centre, Florida.
The mission was announced by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre on Wednesday.
“This collaboration focuses on delivering the Rashid rover on the lunar service by 2022,” said Adnan Al Rais, Mars 2117 programme director.
Under the agreement, iSpace will also provide wired communication and power during the cruise phase and wireless communication on the lunar surface.
The robotic lunar lander is called Hakuto-Reboot, or Hakuto-R, and is the first one built by iSpace.
For now, the private Japanese company is focusing on unmanned missions, but the long-term plan is to eventually have 1,000 people living on the lunar surface.
“We selected iSpace because of their capabilities and the strong team they have. We’re honoured to be part of their first mission to the surface of the Moon,” Mr Rais said.
The UAE aims to land the rover on an unexplored region of the Moon.
If the Rashid rover lands successfully next year, it will carry out a number of scientific objectives.
Some of them include studying the properties of lunar soil, the petrography and geology of the Moon, dust movement and studying the lunar surface plasma condition and photoelectron sheath.