According to a press release by the South African National Space Agency (SANSA), the agency has signed an agreement with the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) to support the Emirates Lunar Mission (ELM). The SpaceX Falcon Rocket, launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA, conveyed the Rashid Rover as a payload on the iSpace Hakuto-R M1 mission on 11 December 2022.
The centre will utilise SANSA Hartebeeshoek (HBK) ground station to establish direct communication between the rover and the ELM Control Centre at MBRSC, United Arab Emirates (UAE) after the lunar rover is expected to travel five months before landing on the moon’s surface.
According to Tiaan Strydom, acting SANSA Commercial Services Executive, “Lunar missions are complex, amassed with daunting challenges and have little to no room for error. Against this backdrop, we are approaching the planned support activities meticulously. The ELM is special to SANSA because it is a historic mission to the United Arab Emirates. We also see it as a build-up to supporting manned Moon missions which are now a strategic focus for many global space industry players”.
While the rover is en route to the lunar surface, the MBRSC engineering team will visit South Africa to collaborate with the SANSA engineering team in installing and testing specialised equipment for the mission at HBK. As one of the supporting ground stations, SANSA will commission two antennae to track and communicate with the spacecraft. In addition, a 12-metre S-band antenna will be used for uplink transmissions, while a 26-meter parabolic antenna will be commissioned for downlink transmissions.
“We have made tremendous progress on the mission with the help of our partners. The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre team is excited to collaborate with the SANSA team and complete the mission successfully,” Dr Hamad Almarzooqi, Emirates Lunar Mission Director, MBRSC, commented.
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