Hazzaa Ali Almansoori, the first Emirati in space Image Credit: NASA

Dubai: UAE will announce two more astronauts under its UAE Astronaut Programme in January 2021, officials on Tuesday revealed at a press conference in Dubai.

The conference featured Hazzaa Al Mansoori and Sultan Al Neyadi, the first two Emirati astronauts, and officials from Mohammad Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), who provided updates on the second batch of the UAE Astronaut Programme.

Registrations for the second batch had opened in December 2019.

On Tuesday, Yousef Al Shaibani, Director-General, MBRSC, said two more astronauts will be chosen from thousands of applicants, whose number has reached over 3,000 currently - one-third of them women.

The registration deadline is March 31 but it could be extended to May 1.

Shortlisted candidates will undergo medical and other tests and interviews, with final interviews to be held in November.

In January 2021, the two new astronauts will be announced.

Hazzaa said passion, dedication and ability to work in a team were crucial in the selection process.

How it all started

The UAE Astronaut Programme was launched in April 2017 by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to prepare an Emirati astronaut corps for scientific space exploration missions.

In 2018, the first two Emirati astronauts, Hazzaa and and Al Neyadi, were handpicked from over 4,000 applicants for the first batch.

Historic mission

In September 2019, Hazzaa became the first UAE astronaut to reach the International Space Station in Earth orbit to conduct six scientific experiments over a week.