We’re ready for takeoff: According to Russian news agency Sputnik, the first Emirati astronaut is set to blast off into space on September 25. The three-man-crew will spend a total of eight days in space, before returning back down to earth on October 3, the report reveals. Meanwhile, Dubai’s Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC) is hosting an event to announce the mission details and reveal the chosen astronaut this week.
Under an agreement signed with the Russian space agency, the first UAE astronaut was scheduled to go into orbit in April, however, those plans were disrupted by the aborted launch of a Soyuz rocket last October.
The hunt for the nation’s first astronauts started in December 2017, when the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center’s UAE Astronaut Programme was initially announced. The two were chosen from 4,022 applicants after a rigorous six-stage vetting procedure. Ahead of their interstellar travels, the two astronauts, who both hail from Abu Dhabi, had to complete stages of intense medical and psychological tests in addition to a series of personal interviews in cooperation with NASA and advanced medical tests by Russian Space Agency, Roscosmos. Al Mansouri is a military pilot with 14 years of military aviation experience, meanwhile Al Neyadi has a PhD in Data Leakage Prevention Technology from Griffith University in Australia that he obtained in 2016.
Only one of the astronauts will lift off into space in September 2019, while the other will stay behind as a back-up.