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Emirati Astronauts to Be Trained By Nasa for Long Haul Space Missions

Astronauts Sultan Al Neyadi and Hazzaa Al Mansoori. Photo: Twitter/@HHShkMohd

The UAE’s strides into space exploration have been gaining momentum, and now it’s about to reach new heights as it was announced yesterday that an agreement has been signed with Nasa to train Emirati astronauts for long haul missions.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, announced the partnership via his Twitter, adding that the training would include spacewalks and long-haul station missions.

Salem Al Marri, head of the UAE Astronaut Programme, at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) UAE confirmed that astronauts Hazzaa Al Mansoori and Sultan Al Neyadi have already begun their training at Nasa’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Both astronauts had previously been trained at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Moscow last year in preparation for their work with the International Space Station (ISS).

Two additional astronauts are to be selected from the second batch of the UAE Astronaut Programme to join the upcoming 2021 Nasa Astronaut Candidate Class, where they will receive the highest standard of physical and mental preparation for space.

“Training will be for around two-and-a-half years and it will prepare them for long-duration missions to ISS,” said Al Marri. He also added that after the training candidates will graduate as “astronauts with user and operative level experience with ISS” meaning they will not only be qualified crew members but will also able to operate the space station itself.

MBRSC Chairman Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori emphasized that the partnership with Nasa wholly supports the strategy of the UAE’s National Space Programme: “Emirati astronauts will benefit from Nasa’s extensive infrastructure, experience and knowledge in spaceflight development and operations. This agreement is a clear testament of the strong economic, cultural and diplomatic ties between the UAE and the USA.”

Nasa’s Deputy Administrator James Morhard added: “The US and UAE enjoy a strong relationship here on Earth, and we are excited to extend that relationship into the final frontier. This agreement to train Emirati astronauts will pave the way for even closer relations between our two nations creating new opportunities for the UAE to become involved in the International Space Station, Artemis, and other Nasa activities.”

The UAE Astronaut Programme is one of the projects managed by the MBRSC and funded by the ICT Fund of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority which aims to support research and development in the information, communication and technology sector in the UAE.


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