Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said that sending the first Emirati astronaut to space will herald the beginning of a new era for the UAE and represents another step towards achieving the country’s vision and aspirations for the space sector.
Sheikh Mohammed’s comments came as the UAE, represented by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), and The Russian Federal Space Agency, Roscosmos, signed a cooperation agreement to send the first Emirati astronaut to space to participate in scientific research as part of the Russian space mission to the International Space Station aboard the Soyuz-MS spacecraft.
“The UAE has signed a historic agreement to send the first Emirati astronaut to the International Space Station. The journey that we began 12 years ago is beginning to bear fruit,” Sheikh Mohammed said.
“Our vision to develop the national space sector is being realised with the development of a spacecraft, the construction of our first local satellite manufacturing facility, the training being given to Emirati astronauts, and the launch of a comprehensive scientific and research programme. We will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the UAE in 2021, and we will gift these accomplishments to our future generations so that their dreams will always start from the sky,” Sheikh Mohammed said.
Sheikh Mohammed said that the agreement supports the objectives of the ‘UAE Centennial 2071’ which focuses on the development of futuristic sciences across various sectors including innovation, space, engineering and medicine. He also said that the agreement provides an impetus for advancing the UAE’s future space ambitions which include building the first inhabitable human settlement in Mars as part of the 2117 Mars project.
Crown Prince of Dubai, Chairman of the MBRSC and general supervisor of all of the Centre’s projects and strategic and development plans HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said that the agreement is part of the strategic objective of the MBRSC to advance the UAE’s position as a leading country in the space industry, and its efforts to collaborate with major institutions to exchange knowledge and best practices in this field.
Sheikh Mohammed said that the first Emirati astronaut will travel to space within a year of the UAE Astronaut Programme creating a final shortlist of candidates as part of the National Space Programme.
Four candidates will be selected from the 95 shortlisted applicants (of which 75 are males and 20 females) aged between 23-48 years, as part of the UAE Space Programme announced in April 2017.