Dubai: Emirati astronauts Hazzaa Al Mansoori and Sultan AlNeyadi will start training this at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas this year in preparation for future space missions, including space walks and long duration station missions, the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBSRC) announced on Monday night.
The announcement came after the MBRSC and US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) signed a Reimbursable Space Act Agreement to train UAE astronauts on International Space Station systems in Houston. His Highness Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, tweeted on Monday: “We are pleased to announce the signing of an agreement with @NASA to train UAE astronauts for potential missions to the International Space Station, including space walks & long duration station missions. The program will train our youth and astronauts for future missions.”
AlMansoori, the first Emirati astronaut who went to space, replied: “We are ready Your Highness. Thank you for your valuable trust and support. Today, we will start a new phase of training and preparations for future space missions to achieve the UAE Astronaut Programme’s goals and serve the development and growth of our beloved nation.”
Reserve astronaut AlNeyadi also replied to Sheikh Mohammed’s tweet: “Thank you, Your Highness, for your limitless support and enabling us to turn our ambitions into reality. We are always and forever committed to our nation’s development. We promise to make the most of our training and future space missions.”
Future space missions
Under the agreement, four Emirati astronauts will be provided advanced training. AlMansoori and AlNeyadi are already in the US while two more astronauts will be selected from the second batch of the UAE Astronaut Programme who will join the 2021 NASA Astronaut Candidate Class
The training programme will prepare Emirati astronauts physically and psychologically for future space missions. Under the programme,the astronauts will be trained to manage various missions on the International Space Station, including simulated spacewalks and long duration stay, along with training in major systems, robotics, extravehicular activity, T-38 jet courses, water and land survival, Russian language skills and theoretical training. The UAE’s participation in the NASA training programme reflects the global reputation of the country’s space sector and its leadership among spacefaring nations.
Training at NASA
The programme created as part of the new partnership includes the same modules and components featured in the training of Nasa astronauts. Under the programme, the astronauts will be trained to manage various missions on the International Space Station, including simulated spacewalks and long duration stay, along with training in major systems, robotics, extravehicular activity, T-38 jet courses, water and land survival, Russian language skills and theoretical training. The UAE’s participation in the Nasa training programme reflects the global reputation of the country’s space sector and its leadership among spacefaring nations.
Al Mansoori and Al Neyadi had earlier trained at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Star City, Moscow in September 2018 as part of their preparation for their launch to the International Space Station.
Global sapce sector
Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori, Chairman, Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre, said: “The global space sector is based on international cooperation fostered by establishing alliances and building bridges of knowledge with leading international space organisations and agencies. The strategic partnership with Nasa, a space pioneer for more than 60 years, supports the strategy of the UAE’s National Space Programme. Emirati astronauts will benefit from NASA’s extensive infrastructure, experience and knowledge in space flight development and operations.”
Al Mansoori further added: “This agreement is a clear testament of the strong economic, cultural and diplomatic ties between the UAE and the USA. The UAE space sector today has advanced expertise that must be enhanced and utilised for future space missions. These accomplishments have raised the global profile of the UAE space sector and enhanced the capabilities of Emirati astronauts.”
Yousuf Hamad Al Shaibani, Director General, MBRSC, said: “This agreement supports the objectives of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre to promote the Emirates Astronaut Program and global partnerships for the country in the area of manned space flight. This is being achieved through investments in specialised space training and other projects related to scientific research and development of space technologies. These initiatives pave the way for future strategic partnerships that can support the growth of the UAE’s space sector.”
Why the agreement
Al Shaibani added, “The agreement with Nasa aims to increase the readiness of Emirati astronauts and prepare them for future long-term space missions. The partnership reflects our endeavours to lay strong foundations for the sector’s continued development.”
“The USA and the UAE enjoy a strong relationship in the space sector, and we are excited to extend that relationship with this agreement. The UAE has made extraordinary progress in the space arena in a short amount of time with the successful launch of the Hope Mars probe, the region’s first interplanetary spacecraft, the latest example of the country’s ambitious space programme,” said James W Morhard, Deputy Administrator, Nasa. “This agreement to train Emirati astronauts will pave the way for even closer relations between our two nations creating new opportunities for the UAE to become involved in the International Space Station, Artemis, and other Nasa activities.”
UAE Astronaut Programme
Salem Al Marri, Head of the UAE Astronaut Programme, MBRSC, said: “This agreement supports the strategic objectives of the UAE Astronaut Program to enhance the position of the UAE’s space sector and contribute, together with counterparts from all across the world, to space research. This initiative represents a quantum leap for the UAE Astronaut Program, which is one of the main pillars for developing scientific cadres and creating future generations of pioneers, in accordance with the highest international standards. It also contributes to realising the nation’s aspirations for promoting scientific exploration in this field.”
The UAE Astronaut Programme is one of the projects managed by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre and funded by the ICT Fund of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), which aims to support research and development in the ICT sector in the UAE