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Emirati astronauts prep for UAE’s first historic trip to International Space Station

UAE Astronaut Programme.

The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) has announced that the first Emirati astronaut will go into space with International Space Station (ISS) on 25 September. Hazzaa Al Mansoori and Sultan Al Neyadi are the two Emiratis who were selected for the UAE Astronaut Programme from a pool of 4,022 candidates after undergoing a series of rigorous medical and psychological tests.

The UAE Astronaut Programme, part of the UAE National Space Programme, was launched in 2017 by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to train and prepare Emirati astronauts to travel to space on various scientific missions.

Revealing the details of the mission, HE Yousuf Hamad Al Shaibani, Director General of MBRSC said: “Announcing this date is a milestone and a great achievement for the entire Arab region. For the first time, an Arab astronaut will travel to ISS so that Arab youth can repeat the accomplishments of their ancestors who excelled in science and mathematics. This step also supports the aspirations of Emiratis, and their determination to achieve the vision of the UAE’s leadership, and support the UAE in exploring space and preparing national cadres to contribute to enriching scientific progress, serving humanity and promoting more achievements in the industry. This also supports the effort to build a national economy based on knowledge, innovation, and creativity.”

The details of the mission to ISS were revealed during the press conference. HE Al Shaibani said that one of the astronauts will fly to ISS for an eight-day Russian space mission aboard a Soyuz-MS 15 spacecraft and will travel back aboard a Soyuz-MS 12. The second astronaut will continue training for future missions.

Salem Al Marri, Assistant Director General for Scientific and Technical Affairs and Head of the UAE Astronaut Programme at MBRSC noted that the date of the flight was postponed from April to September 2019 following a launch accident of the Soyuz-MS 10 spacecraft in October. Al Marri also highlighted that this will be the first time that an astronaut will present an introductory tour in Arabic at ISS.