DUBAI: Visitors to Expo 2020 Dubai were taken on an interstellar voyage, as Al Wasl Plaza, home to the world’s largest 360-degree projection surface, showcased a space-themed immersive show entitled Cosmos.
The show, inspired by Emirati astronaut Hazza Al Mansouri’s flight to the International Space Station, welcomed five international astronauts – Andrey Borisenko (Russia), Claude Nicollier (Switzerland), Christer Fugelsang (Sweden), Marcos Pontes (Brazil), Naoko Yamazaki (Japan) – to the stage.
Following the event, Sarah bint Youssef Al Amiri, UAE Minister of State for Advanced Technology and Chairwoman of the UAE Space Agency, said in an inspiring speech at Al Wasl Plaza: “We gather at Expo 2020 Dubai as one world, a world full of hope after the pandemic that rendered us all still. We are gathered today in Al Wasl Plaza, to talk about the greatest ‘connection’ we all have with each other, our planet Earth.
“We seldom realise how interconnected our ‘Pale Blue Dot’ is until we study it from space. We rarely appreciate the delicate fabric that holds life together until we observe the glimmer of our atmosphere from space. We never think about the vibrancy of life, until we study a desolate planet that could have had a chance like our humble Earth.”
Sarah introduced the audience to the new mission announced by the UAE this month to send a spacecraft on a 3.6-billion-km journey to explore the asteroid belt, with the aim of understanding the history of planet formation and future of space exploration.
She said: “Let us continue in this journey of understand from this point, Al Wasl, where the world meets, and spur it forward to the far reaches of exploration.”
Speaking at the Women’s Majlis earlier in the day for an event entitled Expanding Equal Opportunities in the Space economy, she revealed that the large number of women in the UAE’s space programme “is a demonstration that it is possible to be inclusive.” Indeed, 42 percent of the workforce at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) are Emirati women, while the staff at the UAE Astronaut Programme includes 70 per cent women, and 80 percent of the science team of Emirates Mars Mission are female.
Running until October 23, Expo 2020’s Space Week, in association with MBRSC and the UAE Space Agency – is one of 10 Theme Weeks that will take place throughout Expo, as part of the Programme for People and Planet. Space Week is hosting astronauts, thought-leaders and other space experts to spotlight the latest innovations in space research and travel, providing a platform to discuss critical issues.