Crew selection process
Crew selection process Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Ten Emiratis have been shortlisted from 100 applicants to become part of CrewONE that will participate in the Scientific International Research in Unique Terrestrial Station (SIRIUS 20/21), an eight-month analog mission that will take place from November 2020 until July 2021 at the NEK ground-based analogue facility in Russia.

NEK (Nazemnyy Ekspermental’nyy Kompleks), located at the Institute of Biomedical Problems at the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, is a closed habitat and a unique multi-compartment facility used as an analog for isolation, confinement, and remote conditions in exploration scenarios. It will be used to simulate living on planet Mars.

The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) tweeted on Wednesday that the final CrewONE members will be revealed soon.

Shots from crew selection
Shots from crew selection Image Credit: Supplied

The MBRSC did not disclose the names of the shortlisted candidates but the list include five women, with the youngest candidate being a 25-year-old woman while the oldest shortlisted applicant is a 40-year-old male.

“All the candidates came from varied career backgrounds including engineering, medicine and science. While all ten candidates possessed the requirements in the eligibility criteria, they were shortlisted for their soft skill capabilities including their ability to stay calm under pressure, independent nature, analytical skills and more,” the MBRSC said in statement.

The shortlist follows the MBRSC’s call for applications announced in February this year. The MBRSC looked for Emirati candidates between the ages of 25 and 55, who were passionate about space and can communicate in English. Preferred occupations included physicians, medical investigators, physiologists, biologists, life-support specialists, and IT and electronics professionals.

Final interview

The 10 shortlisted candidate will undergo a final interview in first week of May. After which the final members of CrewONE will be selected.

Two finalists – one primary and one backup – will be selected from the shortlist to become part of CrewONE, the UAE Analog Mission#1, whose mission is to focus on studying the effects of isolation and confinement on human psychology, physiology and team dynamics to help prepare for long-duration space exploration.

According to MBRSC, “this is a first of its kind opportunity for Emiratis in various scientific fields to be part of such a crucial mission that lays the foundation for future space endeavours. The UAE Analog Mission#1 will play a key role in developing Emirati capabilities and contribute to the development of the Mars 2117 Programme, which aims to establish human colonies in Mars by 2117.”

Yousuf Hamad AlShaibani, MBRSC Director General, said: “Guided by the futuristic vision of our leadership, the UAE has progressed exponentially in space research and exploration; and through international collaborations such as the SIRIUS 20/21 mission, we continue to develop our local capabilities and move closer towards building a knowledge-based economy.”

“The UAE Analog Mission#1 is unique because it allows us to work with a global pool of experts across a variety of sectors including health, science, technology and more. Such experiences will ultimately help fortify the UAE’s pioneering space program in the region for years to come.”

Adnan AlRais, Mars 2117 Programme Manager at MBRSC, added: “We are happy with the overall quality of the candidates who have been shortlisted for the UAE Analog Mission#1. We look forward to selecting the final crew members from this pool of talented candidates. Their varied experience and expertise will contribute to the realisation of the Mars 2117 Programme and enable us to undertake more ambitious space exploration challenges.”

The UAE Analog Mission is a Mars 2117 initiative and is funded by the ICT fund of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority.

Mission to Mars

Analog missions are vital in preparing humans for future exploration of Mars and other planets. By simulating space-like conditions right here on Earth, analog missions play a significant role in spaceflight research. They enable space scientists to conduct experiments, develop countermeasures for space-hazards, and test new technologies that are designed for space.

What is the UAE Analog Mission?

The UAE Analog Mission is a part of the Scientific International Research in Unique Terrestrial Station (SIRIUS) SIRIUS 20/21, an 8-month long analog mission conducted in the NEK ground-based analogue facility in Moscow. As part of the Mars 2117 Programme, the UAE Analog Mission studies the effects of isolation and confinement on human psychology, physiology and team dynamics to help prepare for long-duration space exploration.

When and where is will the first UAE Analog Mission take place?

The first mission will take place at the NEK Facility in Moscow, Russia, from November 2020 – July 2021. The NEK facility was built in the 1960s for the purpose of understanding the effects of isolation on the human body, psychologically and physically. One of the most well-known missions conducted at NEK was the Mars 500 program, which had several cycles that started at 14 days, 100 days and lastly completed 520 days.

What will the first UAE Analog Mission entail?

The first UAE analog mission will give us an insight into what measures need to be taken into consideration for long duration missions, such as going to Mars. The crewmembers will undergo both physical and psychological tests that allow us to deduce what measures should be taken into account for future space manned missions.

Source: Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre