In an announcement to the world, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, established the UAE National Space Programme and launched the UAE Astronaut Programme to train and prepare a team of Emirati astronauts ready to go to space.
The programme is managed by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), and is officially opened to Emiratis who hope to become the first representative from their nation to boldly go beyond the Earth’s atmosphere.
After the training and preparation phases, a selected astronaut will take part in the first Emirati mission to the International Space Station (ISS). Whilst there, the astronaut will carry out a number of scientific experiments and research that will enrich humanity’s knowledge in the space sector. This will serve future UAE missions as well as national interests, which will include global space exploration and the possibility of inhabiting other planets, such as the Red Planet.
The UAE Astronaut Programme is the first astronaut programme in the Arab world aimed towards developing skilled and capable Emirati astronaut corps and training them to embark on future space missions. They will serve as ambassadors for the UAE and the Arab world in space exploration.
The UAE Astronaut Programme is funded by the ICT Fund of The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA).
Launched in 2007, this fund, which is the first of its kind in the Arab world, aims towards supporting research and development within the ICT sector in the UAE, helping it to grow into a nationally significant industry with a leading place in the world.
Under the umbrella of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), the UAE Astronaut Programme aims to achieve the national strategy to develop scientific cadres and prepare future generations according to the highest international standards. The Programme is an addition to the UAE’s projects and initiatives that train and prepare Emiratis in the field of advanced science.
This is part of the UAE’s strategy to scientifically prepare young generations to meet future challenges and enhance the UAE’s economy that is based on knowledge and investing in space industry and future science. As per the vision of the UAE National Space Programme, and the wider vision for the advancement of the nation, the UAE Astronaut Programme carries with it a number of objectives:
The UAE, represented by MBRSC, and Russia, represented by the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos, signed an agreement to send the first Emirati astronaut to participate in scientific research in a Russian space mission to the ISS, aboard a Soyuz-MS spacecraft.
One of the astronauts will fly to ISS later this year as the first Arab astronaut to travel to ISS, while the other astronaut will continue training for future missions. ISS hosting the Emirati astronauts will be the first step for the UAE to embark on space exploration missions, and a qualitative addition to humanity.
The astronauts will be sent to the International Space Station to conduct a wide range of different scientific research projects and experiments in various disciplines. Each experiment and mission has different objectives. However, the scientific mission of the UAE Astronaut Programme is to contribute to humanity’s knowledge and to support national and international future space missions. This can be achieved by conducting research aimed towards addressing the challenges that we might face in space exploration which would, eventually, prepare for human exploration.
The potential scientific research focus areas of the UAE Astronaut Programme are aligned with Mars 2117 project which sheds light on the challenges and areas of interest of human space exploration.
Research Areas Aboard the International Space Station
The International Space Station (ISS) is a permanent
laboratory 400 km above the surface of the Earth where
gravity has been virtually eliminated.
An astronaut’s schedule on the International Space Station includes several daily tasks and operations as well as scientific experiments. An astronaut may also take a spacewalk to carry out some tasks outside the space station. Astronauts will spend time giving interviews and updates about the mission to their millions of followers back on Earth.
Sleeping bags are strapped into the sleeping quarters to stop astronauts floating around while asleep. Some prefer to float, while others tie themselves to a wall.
The astronauts’ training, which consists of two stages, basic and advanced, is predominantly conducted in different countries and destinations around the world at specialised astronaut training facilities and centres
An astronaut’s work is much more than training and performing missions. When they have completed their mission, they come back to Earth where they will continue to provide technical support and coaching to the other astronauts on the space programme. They will also act as a space ambassador travelling the world to share their experiences and to promote the importance of space exploration and scientific disciplines as a public figure and a role model for young people.