The Programme was launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, as part of the UAE National Space Programme.
It aims to train and prepare a team of Emiratis to be sent to space for various scientific missions. This supports the intensive preparations to send the first Emirati and Arab astronaut to the International Space Station (ISS) in April 2019.
The 9 candidates who have passed the one-to-one interviews in the MBRSC out of the 18 candidates will undergo an intensive assessment in Russia by experts from Roscosmos. After that the UAE will be choosing the first Emirati astronaut corps of 4 Emirati astronauts based on the comprehensive evaluation for each candidate.
The tests will be conducted by experts from Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center and will include intensive medical and physical tests for each candidate to ensure candidates are ready for special space-related training. This may extend up to 14 days for each candidate.
His Excellency Yousuf Al Shaibani, Director General of the MBRSC, said “The last phase of the evaluation process for the 9 candidates will be a major step for us to choose the best candidates who will represent the UAE in space and carry out space exploration missions and scientific research to benefit humanity. This supports the objectives of the UAE Astronauts Programme, as well as the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, to build national capabilities in space science and take this sector to strategic levels.”
“We appreciate the fruitful and constructive cooperation with a long-established organisation such as the Russian Space Agency, Roscosmos. The first task will be to prepare a final comprehensive evaluation of each candidate, to select the first Emirati astronaut corps in accordance with the highest international standards, in addition to the Agency’s task of training 2 astronauts, for one of them to join the flight to the International Space Station in April,” added Al Shaibani
Recently, the UAE, represented by the MBRSC, and Russia, represented by the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos, signed an agreement to send the first Emirati astronaut to participate in scientific research in a Russian space mission to the ISS, aboard a Soyuz-MS spacecraft.
Two astronauts from the Emirati corps will be trained in Russia, one primary and one backup. One of them will be joining a crew of Russian commander and an American astronaut in Soyuz MS-12 spaceflight which is planned to launch to ISS in April 2019. The others will receive extensive training for future long duration space missions.
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.