UAE’s space dreams set to be a reality soon: Sheikh Hamdan

The first Emirati astronauts have started training at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Russia.

In a Twitter post, the Dubai Media Office has announced that the two astronauts, Sultan Al Neyadi and Hazza Al Mansouri, are preparing for a historic mission that will take one of them to the International Space Station on April 5, 2019 on board the Soyuz MS-12.

The final two were chosen after a shortlist of nine candidates competing to become the UAE’s first astronauts underwent tests in Moscow.

The UAE Astronaut Programme is funded by the ICT fund of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA). Launched in 2007, this fund, which is the first of its kind in the Arab world, aims towards supporting research and development within the ICT sector in the UAE, helping it to grow into a nationally significant industry with a leading place in the world.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai hailed the two astronauts for helping the Emirates become a global player in the international space community.

“The countdown has begun and UAE’s space dreams are set to be a reality soon,” said Sheikh Hamdan in a Twitter post. “I’m so proud of Sultan Al Niyadi and Hazza Al Mansouri; our nation is looking forward to seeing the first Emirati astronauts onboard the International Space Station on 5th of April 2019.”

The final two were chosen after an intensive selection programme by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre. Earlier this year, the UAE Space Programme was announced and received over 4000 applications. Both hail from Abu Dhabi. Only one of them will blast off into space in April 2019, while the other will receive extensive training for future long duration space missions.

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