OPN 190924 Hazza Mansouri-1569328777664
Hazzaa Al Mansouri at the launch the Race To Space book at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature on 1st March, 2019. Photo Clint Egbert/Gulf News Image Credit:

The UAE is putting an astronaut into orbit today. Yes, it is hard to believe that this young nation is fulfilling the dream of having one of its fine sons high in orbit, circling our planet, looking down on us from the International Space Station (ISS). The UAE will become only the 19th country in the world to join the elite club.

Pertinently the UAE Astronaut Programme is the Arab world’s first specialised programme for preparing and training astronauts. Backed by UAE Space Agency, the Mohammad Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) is responsible for managing the sustainable programme to graduate national cadres of astronauts.

The ambitious programme fulfils the country’s aspirations to take a lead role in scientific and manned exploration. It continues to be one of the most important projects of the National Space Programme launched by the UAE government to lay out the infrastructure of the country’s space sector, one that supports the UAE’s strategy for future.

If all goes as expected today, astronaut Hazza Al Mansouri will blast off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome facility in Kazakhstan on top of a three-stage Soyuz FG rocket to rendezvous with the ISS. This is a moment of immense pride for this nation.

This is a nation that has nurtured a can-do attitude in everything it envisages, and there is no better expression than telling its young: Yes, you can be astronauts; yes, you can reach for the stars; yes, it can happen in the UAE

- Gulf News

All along, the UAE has pushed the boundaries of technological and scientific achievement. Now, the country joins a small vanguard of nations whose citizens have worn their flags high above Earth, joining a unique and very brave cadre. The UAE Astronaut Programme also sets the stage for a new phase of excellence and leadership. It will train and qualify Emirati astronauts and equip them with expertise and skills necessary to represent the UAE and the Arab world in future space missions.

Directly funded by the ICT Development Fund, it is responsive to the aspirations of young people with unique scientific abilities and personal skills. Over the last five decades, the UAE has invested in making sure its young have an education system that lays the groundwork for bright futures. Today’s momentous launch marks the culmination of so much for so many.

The leadership of the UAE has always presented the youth of this homeland with opportunities to prosper and forge paths of prosperity and personal growth. This is a nation that has nurtured a can-do attitude in everything it envisages, and there is no better expression than telling its young: Yes, you can be astronauts; yes, you can reach for the stars; yes, it can happen in the UAE.