UAE to launch unmanned mission to the moon by 2024

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Emirati officials brief Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum about a possible moon mission, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, September 29, 2020.

Gulf state boosts space program, could become fourth nation in the world to land on the moon.

The United Arab Emirates plans to send an unmanned spacecraft to the moon in 2024, a top Emirati official said Tuesday, the latest gamble in the stars by the oil-rich nation that could see it become only the fourth nation on Earth to accomplish that goal.

The announcement by Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who also serves as the vice president and prime minister of the hereditarily ruled UAE, shows the rapid expansion of the space program that bears his name. Already, an Emirati space probe is hurtling through space on its way to Mars while last year it sent its first astronaut to the International Space Station.

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SpaceX wants to land Starship on the Moon before 2022, then do cargo runs for 2024 human landing

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Speaking at a quick series of interviews with commercial space companies at this year’s annual International Astronautical Congress, SpaceX president and COO Gwynne Shotwell shed a little more light on her company’s current thinking with regards to the mission timelines for its forthcoming Starship spacefaring vehicle. Starship, currently in parallel development at SpaceX’s South Texas and Florida facilities, is intended to be an all-purpose successor to, and replacement for, both Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy, with a higher payload capacity and the ability to reach the Moon and eventually Mars.

“Aspirationally, we want to get Starship to orbit within a year,” Shotwell said. “We definitely want to land it on the Moon before 2022. We want to […] stage cargo there to make sure that there are resources for the folks that ultimately land on the Moon by 2024, if things go well, so that’s the aspirational time frame.”

That’s an ambitious timeline, and as Shotwell herself repeatedly stated, these are “aspirational” timelines. In the space industry, as well as in tech, it’s not uncommon for leadership to set aggressive schedules in order to drive the teams working on projects to work at the limits of what’s actually possible. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is also known for working to timelines that often don’t match up with reality, and Shotwell alluded to Musk’s ambitious goal setting as a virtue in another part of her onstage interview at IAC.

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Everyone’s going back to the moon. But why?

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The Deep Space Gateway, seen here in an artist’s rendering, would be a spaceport in lunar orbit. Boeing

As the 50th anniversary of the first Apollo landing approaches, a host of countries are undertaking lunar missions. What’s behind the new space race?

At 2.51am on Monday 15 July, engineers at India’s national spaceport at Sriharikota will blast their Chandrayaan-2 probe into orbit around the Earth. It will be the most ambitious space mission the nation has attempted. For several days, the four-tonne spacecraft will be manoeuvred above our planet before a final injection burn of its engines will send it hurtling towards its destination: the moon.

Exactly 50 years after the astronauts of Apollo 11 made their historic voyage to the Sea of Tranquillity, Chandrayaan-2 will repeat that journey – though on a slightly different trajectory. After the robot craft enters lunar orbit, it will gently drop a lander, named Vikram, on to the moon’s surface near its south pole. A robot rover, Pragyan, will then be dispatched and, for the next two weeks, trundle across the local terrain, analysing the chemical composition of soil and rocks.

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New video details NASA’s plan to return humans to the moon

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We Are Going There

NASA is confident it’s going back to the Moon — and this time, it plans to stay there.

On Tuesday, the agency released “We Are Going,” a new video narrated by Star Trek actor William Shatner.

In the clip, NASA details precisely how it plans to send a crewed mission to the Moon by 2024 — touching on everything from the development of brand-new spacecraft to the hunt for mission-supporting water beneath the Moon’s surface.

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Giant leaf for mankind? China germinates first seed on moon

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A photo of the cotton sprout. ‘This is the first time humans have done biological growth experiments on the lunar surface,’ said Xie Gengxin, who led the design of the experiment. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

A small green shoot is growing on the moon after a cotton seed germinated onboard a Chinese lunar lander, scientists said.

The sprout has emerged from a lattice-like structure inside a canister after the Chang’e 4 lander touched down earlier this month, according to a series of photos released by the Advanced Technology Research Institute at Chongqing University.

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