Dubai: By 2024, two new UAE astronauts will graduate from the programme for future space missions, it was announced today.
The announcement came from Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai and Chairman of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC).
His remarks were made during a MBRSC board meeting, which he chaired on Monday.
“By 2024, Mohammed Al Mulla and Nora Al Matroushi will embark on trailblazing space missions,” Sheikh Hamdan posted on his account on X (formerly Twitter).
He also shared updates on the launch of a satellite and a moon exploration project.
“The next phase of our journey will see groundbreaking Emirati space ventures... Next year, we will launch MBZ-Sat, the Arab world’s most advanced satellite to date. The Rashid Rover 2 project will continue on, as our determination to explore the moon remains.”
Sheikh Hamdan said the Centre is committed to realising the UAE’s vision to raise the Arab region’s profile as a prominent player in the global space industry by undertaking ambitious projects that will bring enduring benefits to humanity.
During the meeting, he was briefed about the Centre’s ambitious missions and future programmes.
"In the next phase of our journey, we are set to implement exceptional projects that will open new horizons for space exploration. The UAE’s rapidly advancing space sector is poised to evolve into a significant global contributor in the field, drawing from the rich expertise, knowledge and strategic partnerships we have acquired through unique initiatives and missions,” Sheikh Hamdan said.
“The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre is a pivotal contributor to the UAE's space programme, and we remain committed to enhancing the nation’s stature as a key player in shaping the future of space exploration in line with the leadership’s vision. Our goal is to unearth new data and gain knowledge and insights that will bring benefits not just for our nation but also for the region and the global community.”
He continued: “The UAE has set high standards for space excellence and will continue to launch ambitious missions that resonate with our leadership’s vision to advance our nation’s role as an innovator and trailblazer in the region and the world.”
Updates on programmes and missions
During the meeting, Sheikh Hamdan was briefed on MBRSC’s latest accomplishments, including the success of the longest Arab space mission, led by UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi and the UAE’s collaboration with international space agencies and leading local and international universities. The mission included over 200 experiments that reflected the nation’s commitment to exploring space and science for the benefit of humankind.
UAE Astronaut Programme
The meeting also discussed next steps for the UAE Astronaut Programme, and the training of astronauts Mohammad Al Mulla and Nora Al Matrooshi who were selected to train alongside 10 NASA astronauts. Al Mulla and Al Matrooshi will be ready for space missions upon their graduation from the programme in 2024.
Sheikh Hamdan reviewed the latest satellite building projects, which aim to design, build and operate advanced earth-monitoring satellites, including the MBZ-SAT, which upon its launch next year will be the most advanced commercial satellite in the region in the field of high-resolution satellite imagery.
With 90 per cent of its mechanical structure and 50% of its electronic modules built locally, MBZ-SAT will be the second satellite to be built entirely by Emirati engineers, following KhalifaSAT.
Sheikh Hamdan was also briefed on the progress of the Rashid Rover 2 project, the UAE’s latest mission to the moon, which was announced by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in April. The mission will build on the achievements of the previous project to design and build the world’s most compact rover ‘Rashid Rover’, which became the first Emirati and Arab rover to reach the lunar orbit before the landing attempt onboard iSpace’s HAKUTO-R lander.
The board meeting also discussed the satellite Payload Hosting Initiative, a joint effort by MBRSC and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) to advance capacity-building and promote space science and technology in developing countries. The initiative is a valuable opportunity to demonstrate innovation and new technology.
Sheikh Hamdan reviewed the latest developments related to the ‘Hope Probe’, including its unprecedented accomplishments which helped uncover secrets of the red planet Mars.
Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori, Chairman, MBRSC Board of Directors, said: “Under the supervision of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, we will continue to bolster the UAE’s role in space exploration. We will keep pace with the evolving space scene by strategically enhancing our capabilities and preparing for the future.”
He added: “At MBRSC, we do not only aim to nurture UAE innovation and talent, but also establish a global platform for sharing knowledge, expertise and data to build the future of space.”
Beacon of innovation
Salem Humaid Al Marri, Director General, MBRSC, said: “Under the leadership of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, MBRSC will continue to act as a beacon of innovation, and a key player in building the future of space exploration.
“We continue to create a collaborative working environment that nurtures talent and disruptive thinking. We aim to share and grow knowledge by supporting global collaborations to help introduce new, state-of-the-art technologies that will enhance human knowledge and quality of life.”
The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre works with regional companies to create a launchpad for the local space industry. The Centre has partnered with local companies to manufacture components of the MBZ-SAT, including aluminium honeycomb panels.