The International Space Station. Image Credit: NASA

Dubai: For the first time in the country’s history, an Emirati astronaut will blast into space in April 2019 aboard a spacecraft piloted by Russia Federal Space Agency Roscosmos to visit the International Space Station.

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, tweeted on Wednesday that the historic first trip into space is now a go after UAE and Russia inked a cooperation agreement.

The Government of Dubai Media Office confirmed that the Mohammad Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) and the Russian Federal Space Agency, Roscosmos, signed a cooperation agreement to send the first Emirati astronaut into space to participate in scientific research as part of the Russian space mission to the International Space Station aboard the Soyuz-MS spacecraft.

“The UAE has signed a historic agreement to send the first Emirati astronaut to the International Space Station. The journey that we began 12 years ago is beginning to bear fruit,” Shaikh Mohammad said.

It was a historic achievement by the United Arab Emirates, Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince, tweeted. 

The flight will last for 10 days and training and preparation will begin next month for the trip. The return flight will be made on the Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft. 

The International Space Station (ISS) is a multi-nation construction project that is the largest single structure humans have ever put into space.

As of January 2018, 230 individuals from 18 countries have visited the station.

KEY DATES

■■ May 6, 2015: UAE unveils details of Mars mission. Probe named Amal (Hope) to enter the Red Planet’s orbit in 2021, the 50th anniversary of the founding of the nation.

■■ December 6, 2017: Application process for Astronaut Programme launched.

■■ April 16, 2018: A total of 4,022 Emiratis applied with 34 per cent of them women.

■■ June 6, 2018: Ninety-five nominees selected from 4,022 applicants for the