Dubai: The Mohammad Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) announced that 18 candidates have made it to the final stage of interviews leading up to the formation of the first Emirati astronaut corps under the UAE Astronaut Programme.
Salem Al Merri, assistant director-general for scientific and technical affairs at MBRSC, said: “We are now closer to selecting the preliminary list of Emirati astronaut corps, which includes four candidates. The 18 candidates will be assessed by a committee of highly capable experts from MBRSC, in addition to experts from international space agencies.”
The UAE Astronaut Programme is preparing the first Emirati and Arab astronaut to go to the International Space Station (ISS). Two astronauts from the Emirati corps will be trained in Russia — one primary and one as backup. One will join a Russian commander and an American astronaut on a Soyuz MS-12 flight, which is planned for launch to the ISS in April 2019. The other Emiratis will receive extensive training for long duration space missions.
Eighteen of 39 candidates cleared the initial interview process conducted by specialists from MBRSC. It comprised extensive tests to measure intelligence, neurocognitive ability, personality and aptitude.
Following the tests, one-to-one interviews were conducted where the candidates’ personalities were evaluated to ensure that they are able to endure the harsh conditions in space.
The programme is funded by the ICT fund of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority.
Yousuf Al Shaibani, director-general of MBRSC, said: “The UAE Astronaut Programme strives to support the national policy in the field of space, and support the vision of our wise leadership to build a national team of Emiratis who will be fully trained and prepared to achieve the UAE’s ambitions in this field, as per global standards. This will enable the UAE to become a hub for the region’s space sector, it will inspire next generations in the UAE and the region to become innovators in different fields including space science and technology.”
He added: “We have reached an important stage in the journey of selecting the first Emirati astronaut corps who will participate in scientific missions in space. We appreciate the efforts of all the participants in the evaluation process so far, in addition to the initial interview committee, who successfully shortlisted the most qualified candidates after conducting comprehensive evaluations for each one of them. We are proud of the MBRSC’s experts, who are capable of managing this programme as per global standards.”