David Parker (left) and Salem Humaid Al Merri signing the Memorandum of Intent at the International Astronautical Congress 2018 being held this week in Bremen, Germany. Image Credit: Courtesy: MBRSC

Dubai: The two Emirati astronauts-in-training will undergo a special training under the European Space Agency (ESA) to prepare them for UAE’s first space mission on April 5.

The Mohammad Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) signed a Memorandum of Intent (MOI) with the European Space Agency (ESA) at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) 2018 being held this week in Bremen, Germany.

The partnership between the two agencies establishes the frameworks for potential cooperation in space science and technology and capacity building for human spaceflight activities.

It within the framework of the expansion of MBRSC’s global strategic partnerships.

The two Emirati astronauts, Hazza Ali Abdan Khalfan Al Mansouri and Sultan Saif Muftah Hamad Al Niadi, are currently undergoing intensive training in the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Russia.

One of them will be chosen to fly to the International Space Station (ISS) on April 5 for 11 days.

Eng Salem Humaid Al Merri, Assistant Director-General for Scientific and Technical Affairs and Head of the UAE Astronaut Programme at MBRSC, and David Parker, Director of Human and Robotic Exploration at ESA, signed the memorandum in the presence of Yousuf Hamad Al Shaibani, Director-General of the MBRSC.

Through this agreement, ESA will offer technical support to Operations Support Centre (UAE OSC), by providing them with technologies to communicate with astronauts directly from Dubai, and communicating with the specialised team from MBRSC. At a later stage of this agreement, UAE-OSC will be integrated in the ISS Operations Network.

Al Shaibani stressed that these partnerships will contribute to enhancing potential cooperation in space exploration and human spaceflight activities, including the UAE Astronaut Programme.

Al Merri for his part said the agreement will “open new channels of communication between the two parties, to enhance bilateral cooperation in space science and share best practices, as well as discuss future opportunities for training Emirati astronauts on long duration flights, within the framework of the UAE Astronaut Programme.”