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UAE to become the first Arab country to send astronaut on a long-term space mission

The UAE announced the launch of a new space mission to the International Space Station for six months (Photo: DXBMediaOffice/Two )

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), which is on steroids in order to jump into the big league, will become the first Arab country to send its national to a long-term space mission next year.

The UAE astronaut will join the International Space Station and stay they’re for 180 days. The astronaut will reach the ISS by joining SpaceX Crew-6 in the Spring of 2023, the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) announced on Friday.

The mission will be the result of an agreement that MBRSC signed with Axiom Space at the UAE's embassy in Washington.

“It is our great pleasure to sign the agreement with the United Arab Emirates’ Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, marking the first time a commercial space company has made such a mission possible,” said Michael Suffredini, president and CEO of Axiom Space. “Axiom Space is proud to provide MBRSC with a flight opportunity for a UAE astronaut, enabling its first long-term mission to the ISS.”

Earlier, Emirati astronaut Hazzaa Al Mansoori had joined the ISS in 2019 onboard the Soyuz MS15 spacecraft to complete an eight-day mission. But this will be the first time that any Arab nation would be sending its national on a long duration space mission lasting six months. It will also be a maiden occasion when a US private space agency will transport a non-ISS partner on a space mission.

"Our Emirati astronauts are highly equipped for this mission; having undergone a rigorous training programme that prepared them to conduct long-duration missions. Spacewalks and operating ISS systems were among many practices covered during their sessions," said H.E. Salem Humaid Al Marri, director-general of the MBRSC.

"Astronauts will conduct large-scale scientific experiments which will contribute to a greater understanding of space phenomena. We will collaborate with various countries to offer new data in support of future missions," he observed.

"Signing the agreement to send the first Arab astronaut on a long-term mission of 180 days to the International Space Station is [a] new milestone for the UAE space sector. The UAE will be among 11 countries in the world that carried out long-term space missions," said His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

“Our space sector is constantly evolving. The new mission will add new experiences and knowledge to Emirati astronauts and the scientific community”, he added. Sheikh Mohammed said that the UAE has long term plans for the space sector.

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