UAE astronauts
Astronauts Mohammad Al Mulla and Nora Al Matrooshi, the duo who form the second batch of Emirati astronauts, during a field trip of geology training as part of NASA Astronaut Candidate Class of 2021 Image Credit: Twitter

Dubai: There is no stopping the UAE’s manned space missions after the return of astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi on Monday following the successful completion of the longest Arab space mission. The country’s next batch of astronauts is continuing their training for future human space flight missions.

Astronauts Mohammad Al Mulla and Nora Al Matrooshi, the duo who form the second batch of Emirati astronauts, have undergone geology training as part of NASA Astronaut Candidate Class of 2021, the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), the agency behind the UAE Astronaut Programme, said on Thursday.

In a social media post, MBRSC said their training included classes covering topics such as the surfaces of the Moon and Mars. Apart from studying how the Moon and Mars look like on the outside, the duo held field training on the surface processes — how the ground on those planets works, and how it changes over time. They are even drawing a geological map which helps to display where different rocks and features exist on the surfaces of the Moon and Mars.

This training is expected to help them become better astronauts and scientists so that they can explore other planets in the future. MBRS also shared images of the two Emirati astronauts along with NASA classmates and trainers.

Extensive training

The duo are on track with their extensive training regimen, with both conducting spacewalk training at NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL) at the Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Texas, last month.

Following the recent series of demanding exercises including survival training at Alabama’s Fort Novosel and a detailed orientation at the Marshall Space Flight Centre in the USA, Al Matrooshi and Al Mulla’s training in the NBL, the world’s largest indoor pool used for simulated spacewalk training. is a crucial phase on the way to completing their astronaut training.

Al Matrooshi and Al Mulla, who are part of the second batch of the UAE Astronaut Programme, were selected in the 2021 class of astronaut candidates alongside 10 of their NASA classmates. The 10 candidates were carefully selected from a pool of over 12,000 applicants from across the USA for the NASA astronaut corps and are currently undergoing candidacy program training at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. They are set to graduate in early 2024 as flight-eligible astronauts.

Ready for next mission

Meanwhile, Al Neyadi, who is currently under medical observation in the US after splashing down off the coast of Jacksonville in Florida, has expressed his readiness to go on the next mission.

He said this to a top MBRSC official who visited him in Houston.

Salem Humaid Al Marri, director general of MBRSC, said he visited Al Neyadi after his successful return to Earth.

“He is in great health, and the first thing he said to me was, “I am ready for the next mission”,” Al Marri said in a post on microblogging site X.

The official said “this embodies the spirit of the UAE Astronaut Programme.”

“I am very excited for what’s next. Stay tuned,” he added.

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Al Neyadi is expected to return to the UAE for a hero’s welcome in a couple of weeks. After spending almost a week here, he will return to the US to conduct further experiments.

Congratulating the junior astronauts on their new training, Al Marri said in another post: “Studying geology is a crucial step towards understanding and exploring destinations across space that human space flight will take us to and extract samples from their surfaces. Each training session elevates the expertise of the UAE Astronaut Programme team, fine-tuning our preparedness for future missions.”