After successfully launching its first interplanetary mission to Mars, and beginning work on spacecraft to explore asteroids, the United Arab Emirates is all set to send its astronaut to the International Space Station. The UAE Space Agency has signed a deal with Nasa to send its astronaut on a six-month mission to the flying laboratory.
UAE will be the 11th country in the world after the US, Russia, China, India and others to send humans outside the planet. While the name of the astronaut is not yet revealed, the individual will be the second Emirati in space after Hazza Al Mansouri’s historic eight-day mission in 2019.
“A new station for the space sector in the UAE with the signing of a new agreement to send the first Arab astronaut for a 180-day long mission to the International Space Station… The UAE will be the 11th country in history to send a long-term mission to space.. Proud of the UAE youth,” UAE Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said in a tweet.
The astronaut will be launched to space with the Crew-6 mission on a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft atop its reusable Falcon-9 rocket. The UAE Space Agency has purchased the seat for its astronaut from the Axiom Space, which recently launched the first private astronaut mission to the flying outpost.
The mission will be the first long-duration astronaut mission in the country’s emerging space programme.
The Arab country had earlier released the names of four astronauts, who are training with Nasa at the Johnson Space Centre. The four astronauts include Major Al Mansouri, former IT professional Dr Sultan Al Neyadi, helicopter pilot Mohammed Al Mulla, and mechanical engineer Nora Al Matrooshi.
Nora Al Matrooshi is the country’s first female astronaut. The UAE government has said that the name of the selected astronaut will be revealed at a later stage.
After completion of the training, the astronaut will work as a mission specialist on board the Space Station, when they launch with astronauts Stephen Bowen and Warren Hoburg. The Crew-6 will conduct a series of science experiments in zero gravity.