Dubai: The UAE will soon become the first Arab country to send an astronaut to the International Space Station (ISS) on a six-month space mission.
President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan tweeted on Monday: “I am proud to congratulate Sultan Al Neyadi on being selected as the 1st Arab astronaut to spend 6 months on the International Space Station as part of a mission to commence in 2023. This historic milestone builds on the strong foundations of the UAE’s burgeoning space programme.”
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, tweeted: “Our young people have made us feel so proud.”
Al Neyadi was handpicked from a group of Emirati astronauts at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) in Dubai.
In April, the UAE secured a six-month mission to the ISS for an Emirati astronaut, after purchasing a seat on a SpaceX rocket from private company Axiom Space.
The announcement followed an agreement signed between MBRSC and Axiom Space at the UAE’s embassy in Washington. MBRSC had then said the development marked “the first Arab long-duration space mission”.
Al Neyadi astronaut will be part of the SpaceX Crew-6 mission that is scheduled for launch in the first half of 2023 from Florida’s Kennedy Space Centre in the US.
UAE space missions
Last year, the UAE made history with its unmanned Hope Probe to Mars by becoming the first Arab country and the fifth globally to reach the Red Planet. The mission has since discovered a new type of aurora on the Mars, challenging scientists’ understanding of the planet, which was thought not to possess auroras at all.
The UAE also has plans to carry out a lunar landing by 2024 as part of a $100 million project in collaboration with Israel. The project is a result of an agreement signed between Israeli space company SpaceIL and the UAE and will be the first double-landing on the moon in space exploration history.