Dubai: The UAE will be only the 11th country in history to send a long-term mission to space, it was announced today.
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, said the UAE will be sending the first Arab astronaut on a six-month mission to the International Space Station (ISS).
This follows a deal signed between the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) and Axiom Space, at the UAE Embassy in Washington, United States.
“We are proud of the Emirati young people”, Sheikh Mohammed tweeted as he made the announcement. “Another milestone for UAE space sector marked with the signing of new agreement to send the first Arab astronaut for a 180-day long mission to the International Space Station,” Sheikh Mohammed said.
MBRSC signs agreement to send Emirati astronaut to the International Space Station for 182 days
Sheikh Mohmmed said: “We launched the ‘UAE Astronaut programme’ more than five years ago ... The UAE sent the first Arab astronaut on a historic trip to the International Space Station... Today we announce a new cooperation between the UAE and the United States of America to send an Emirati astronaut on the first long-term mission aboard the International Space Station”.
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum added: “Signing the agreement to send the first Arab astronaut in a long-term mission of 180 days to the International Space Station is a new milestone for the UAE space sector. The UAE will be among 11 countries in the world that carried out long-term space missions.”
Sheikh Mohammed further said: “Our space sector is constantly evolving. The new mission will add new experiences and knowledge to Emirati astronaut and the scientific community”, the UAE will continue its ambitions in the space sector”.
The deal will further strengthen collaboration between the MBRSC and the American space agency NASA, as the two entities will collaborate extensivly over the duration of the six-month mission.
The signing ceremony
MBRSC currently has four astronauts training at NASA’s Johnson Space Centre in Houston, to prepare them for long-duration human spaceflight.
Yousef Al Otaiba, UAE Ambassador to the US; Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori, Chairman, MBRSC; and Yousuf Hamad AlShaibani, Deputy Chairman, MBRSC; along with astronauts Nora AlMatrooshi and Mohammed Al Mulla attended the signing ceremony. The agreement was signed by Salem Al-Marri, Director General of MBRSC, on behalf of MBRSC, and Michael Suffredini, president and CEO of Axiom Space.
In alignment with the announcement made by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori affirmed that the first long-term mission for Arab astronauts signifies the extraordinary progress made by the UAE National Space Programme. This momentous endeavour has been made possible as a result of the vision and ambition of the leadership of the UAE.
Al Mansoori commented: “The six-month mission duration will allow for in-depth and advanced experiments to be undertaken in space. Up until now, long-duration missions have only been accomplished by a small number of countries. The UAE will now rise to the ranks of this elite group after having entered the sector merely decades ago.”
‘Paving the way for future initiatives’
Salem AlMarri said: “With the aim of strengthening cooperation between the UAE and the US that involves prominent institutions such as Axiom Space in the space exploration sector, we are delighted to announce this important partnership that will help us further advance our space programme. This will pave the way for future initiatives that will contribute to strengthening the UAE’s position as a leading nation in the world of space exploration.”
Michael T. Suffredini, president and CEO of Axiom said: “It is our great pleasure to sign the agreement with the United Arab Emirates’ Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, marking the first time a US commercial company has made such a mission possible. Axiom is proud to provide MBRSC with a flight opportunity enabling the first long-term Arab mission to the ISS.”
Complex and advanced experiments
The planned space mission to the ISS will include an Emirati astronaut and his counterparts from the US. The team will be conducting experiments and managing the operations of the station. They will be welcomed onboard the space station by a team of Russian cosmonauts as well as American and European astronauts.
On board the ISS, the Emirati astronaut will conduct a series of complex and advanced experiments, and in depth public outreach and education programme requiring a longer stay of 180 days until September 2023. The results of his mission are expected to have significant impacts that will benefit the global space community. The results of his mission are expected to have significant impacts that will benefit the global space community.
The mission marks another important milestone for the UAE’s national space programme, where another Emirati astronaut will be sent to the ISS, which will be the longest duration for which an Emirati or Arab astronaut will be staying in space.