The United Arab Emirates is all set to send its first astronaut to the International Space Station in April next year. The UAE space agency, Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), has reportedly signed a deal with the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, which will see the first Emirati astronaut make his way to the space on board a Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft.
Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid took to Twitter to announce the news. He tweeted that the UAE’s vision that began 12 years ago is finally beginning to take shape now.
The UAE astronaut will take off from Russia for a 10-day mission to the ISS in April 2019 and will return back to Earth with the crew of the Soyuz MS-10. The Russian space agency said that the signed agreement is still preliminary. The final agreement for the UAE’s first manned space mission is expected to be made by the end of August this year.
“The UAE is moving rapidly in space science and research due to the unlimited support of our wise leadership,” said Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori, Chairman of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre.
Notably, the astronaut selection for the mission is still going on. The selection is expected to complete in the next two weeks to a month. As part of the UAE Space Programme announced in April 2017, four candidates and two reserves will be selected from the 95 shortlisted applicants aged between 23 and 48 years.
The astronaut training will depend on the type of mission he or she will be assigned. Astronauts will be trained for around eight to nine months for the 10-day mission. One of the four candidates will make a trip of the ISS and the rest will follow. Russia will reportedly have a hand in picking the UAE astronaut who will be launched to the ISS.
“The selected astronauts will participate in scientific research programs that will serve humanity and help develop the UAE space sector in the future,” Mansouri added.
UAE is also planning to send an unmanned probe to Mars in 2020.
Another milestone achieved! The first UAE astronaut will be sent to the ISS in April 2019, as the UAE signs an agreement with the Russian Space Agency. We’re now another step closer to creating history! pic.twitter.com/00zaRCCrSQ
— MBR Space Centre (@MBRSpaceCentre) June 20, 2018