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UAE astronaut programme shortlists 61 candidates for second edition

UAE astronaut programme shortlists 61 candidates for second edition

The candidates have been shortlisted from 4,305 applicants

A total of 61 candidates have been handpicked from 4,305 applicants for the second installment of the UAE Astronaut Programme, the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) has confirmed.

The UAE’s next two astronauts are to be chosen from the shortlisted candidates that will join the country’s astronaut core and assist in future space missions.

The list of 4,305 applicants – which marked a 7 per cent increase from the first batch – was filtered down to 2,099 applicants based on their age, educational background, and scientific research experience.

The applicants then underwent an online test, through which the top 1,000 candidates were selected. In the next phase, these candidates were made to undergo IQ, personality, and technical assessments. The top 122 from the 1,000 were interviewed virtually, bringing the shortlist down to 61 candidates.

The shortlisted candidates include 41 men (67 per cent) and 20 women (33 per cent) from across the UAE. The average age of the applicants stood at 28 years old, with the youngest candidate being 23 years old and the oldest 39 years old.

The applicants have diverse educational backgrounds, with three of them holding a PhD, while 12 have a master’s degree.

Professionally, 54 per cent of the applicants were from the engineering sector, 18 per cent hail from the military sector, while 18 per cent and 5 per cent belong to the aviation and healthcare industries respectively.

The shortlisted candidates are currently undergoing advanced medical tests. A select number of candidates will be shortlisted after this for an initial interview to be conducted by a committee from MBRSC.

Successful candidates that progress to the next round will undergo a final round of interview conducted by a panel of experts from MBRSC, including astronauts Hazzaa AlMansoori and Sultan AlNeyadi. Two candidates will then be selected from the final list to form the second batch of the UAE Astronaut Programme.

“The UAE Astronaut Programme is moving steadily towards achieving the goals of the UAE’s space sector and the vision of the wise leadership,” said Yousuf Hamad Al Shaibani, director general, Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre.

“Our ambition to strengthen the UAE’s position among leading countries in the space sector is the foundation under which the programme was established. Building on our strategy in the space sector and solid foundations, our goal now is to continue to focus on developing a national cadre of astronauts capable of achieving the nation’s ambitions in this field at the highest international levels and support future space exploration missions.”

He added: “We have reached an important stage in the programme’s journey to select the second batch of Emirati astronauts, who will participate in scientific missions in space. Our capabilities in the space sector continue to grow at a rapid pace, and the two new Emirati astronauts will add great momentum to strengthening the ambition of the UAE’s space exploration missions.”

Salem AlMarri, assistant director general for Scientific and Technical Affairs and head of the UAE Astronaut Programme, MBRSC, said: “When we launched the UAE Astronaut Programme, we had a clear goal of developing Emirati talent and local capabilities that contribute to our leadership’s vision of making the UAE a hub for space science and technology. The second batch of the Programme aligns with this vision as we continue to seek the skills and expertise that enable us to enhance our knowledge in the space sector.”

He further added: “The UAE Astronaut Programme is an integral part of the UAE’s National Space Strategy and is one of the key pillars for enhancing our knowledge in this sector. The Programme has contributed to the formation of a highly capable Emirati astronaut corps, which will help the UAE achieve its aspirations for future space exploration.”

As part of a joint cooperation agreement between the UAE and the US, the two new astronauts will join the NASA astronaut candidate class of 2021 and train at the Johnson Space Centre in the US.

Read: NASA to train four Emirati astronauts for future missions

The Emirati astronauts will undergo the same training programme as those of NASA astronauts, which will help them prepare physically and psychologically for future space exploration missions.

The final selected candidates will undergo an intensive multi-stage training programme. They will undergo a basic training phase, during which they will learn the objectives and plans of the programme and the basics of scientific disciplines.

Candidates will also learn Russian, be trained on scientific research procedures in space and then move on to the advanced and intensive training phase.

Also read: UAE leads its pursuit of a strong astronaut core

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