Dubai: The UAE has started work on the multi-nation Gateway Lunar Space Station, which will orbit the moon and host an Emirati astronaut, among others, in the coming years.
The announcement came in a series of posts on X by UAE space officials on Sunday.
Salem Al Marri, Director-General, Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), posted: “This week, we started the work on the Gateway Lunar Space Station after our leadership announced the UAE’s participation in the project.
“We had several meetings with the Gateway team at NASA’s Johnson Space Center [in Houston, USA] to coordinate the efforts, and our team at MBRSC is starting to work on the #EmiratesAirlock, which will used in the first lunar station in history.”
He added: “We are still in the beginning of the journey, but with the dedication of the MBRSC team and our collaboration with [other space agencies], I’m sure we will achieve our ambitious goals.”
Besides the UAE, America’s NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) are involved in the project.
Al Marri also shared photos of the mockup of Lunar Gateway’s Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO), the first constructed part of the Gateway.
The images showed four Emirati astronauts in front of HALO, including Sultan Al Neyadi, Hazzaa Al Mansoori (who have each accomplished a mission to the International Space Station) and the second batch of the UAE Astronaut Programme, comprised of UAE’s first female Arab astronaut, Nora Al Matrooshi, and Mohammad Al Mulla.
The UAE will be responsible for developing the lunar space station’s airlock, a critical component for maintaining a safe environment for astronauts. This unit will act as a portal of the station, serving as the entry and exit point for missions and astronauts travelling to the Moon’s surface from the Gateway station.
The UAE will also undertake the management and operation of the station’s Airlock. The Airlock’s length is 10 metres, its width is 4 metres, weight 10 tonnes, while the size of the entire station is 19 x 20 x 42M.
The station will double as a space laboratory, enabling a range of scientific and technical experiments, and will have a minimum lifespan of 15 years, which is subject to extension.
The first elements of Gateway are expected to be launched by 2025, while the Emirates Airlock is scheduled to be launched by 2030.