UAE to send Emirati astronaut to International Space Station for six months
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UAE to send Emirati astronaut to International Space Station for six months

UAE to send Emirati astronaut to International Space Station for six months

On board the International Space Station, the Emirati astronaut will conduct a series of advanced experiments

International Space Station

The UAE has announced the launch of a new space mission to the International Space Station that will last for six months.

The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) signed a strategic cooperation with Axiom Space, a human spaceflight and infrastructure company.

The space mission to the ISS will include an Emirati astronaut and his US counterparts, who would be welcomed onboard the station by a team of Russian cosmonauts as well as American and European astronauts.

On board the ISS, the Emirati astronaut will conduct a series of advanced experiments, and in depth public outreach and education programme, requiring a longer stay of 180 days until September 2023, official news agency WAM reported. This will be the longest amount of time that an Emirati or Arab astronaut will have stayed in space.

The deal will further strengthen collaboration between the MBRSC and the American space agency NASA. MBRSC currently has four astronauts training at NASA’s Johnson Space Centre in Houston.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, said: “We launched the UAE Astronaut programme more than five years ago. The UAE sent the first Arab astronaut on a historic trip to the International Space Station… Today we announce a new cooperation between the UAE and the United States of America to send an Emirati astronaut on the first long-term mission aboard the International Space Station.”

On completion of the initiative, the UAE will become the first Arab country to undertake a mission involving a prolonged stay at the space station. The new mission comes after Hazzaa Al Mansoori’s visit to the ISS aboard the Soyuz MS15 spacecraft on September 25, 2019.

Read: Emirati astronaut Hazza Al Mansouri returns to UAE after historic space visit

Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori, chairman of MBRSC, commented: “The six-month mission duration will allow for in-depth and advanced experiments to be undertaken in space. Up until now, long-duration missions have only been accomplished by a small number of countries. The UAE will now rise to the ranks of this elite group after having entered the sector merely decades ago.”

“The agreement with Axiom Space, as well as the partnership with NASA are crucial milestones in this journey. In the UAE, manned and unmanned space exploration programmes are progressing concurrently. This mission takes place alongside final preparations for the country’s lunar mission, and it will occur in the wake of the successful Hope Probe mission to Mars.”

Salem AlMarri, director general, MBRSC, said: “With the aim of strengthening cooperation between the UAE and the US that involves prominent institutions such as Axiom Space in the space exploration sector, we are delighted to announce this important partnership that will help us further advance our space programme. This will pave the way for future initiatives that will contribute to strengthening the UAE’s position as a leading nation in the world of space exploration.”

Last year, two new Emirati astronauts were selected as part of the second batch of the UAE Astronaut Programme, one of whom was a female, Nora AlMatrooshi.

Read: UAE selects first female Arab astronaut

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