Japanese company’s lander rockets toward moon with UAE rover
By MARCIA DUNNDecember 11, 2022
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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with a payload including two lunar rovers from Japan and the United Arab Emirates, lifts off from Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Sunday, Dec. 11, 2022. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A Tokyo company aimed for the moon with its own private lander Sunday, blasting off atop a SpaceX rocket with the United Arab Emirates’ first lunar rover and a toylike robot from Japan that’s designed to roll around up there in the gray dust.
It will take nearly five months for the lander and its experiments to reach the moon.
The company ispace designed its craft to use minimal fuel to save money and leave more room for cargo. So it’s taking a slow, low-energy path to the moon, flying 1 million miles (1.6 million kilometers) from Earth before looping back and intersecting with the moon by the end of April.
By contrast, NASA’s Orion crew capsule with test dummies took five days to reach the moon last month. The lunar flyby mission ended Sunday with a thrilling Pacific splashdown.
The ispace lander will aim for Atlas crater in the northeastern section of the moon’s near side, more than 50 miles (87 kilometers) across and just over 1 mile (2 kilometers) deep. With its four legs extended, the lander is more than 7 feet (2.3 meters) tall.
With a science satellite already around Mars, the UAE wants to explore the moon, too. Its rover, named Rashid after Dubai’s royal family, weighs just 22 pounds (10 kilograms) and will operate on the surface for about 10 days, like everything else on the mission.
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Emirates project manager Hamad AlMarzooqi