9 Candidates Qualify For UAE’s First Astronaut Programme

The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) has announced that 9 candidates have qualified for the final evaluation phase of the UAE Astronaut Programme.

The programme aims to send the first Emirati and Arab astronaut to the International Space Station (ISS) in April 2019.

The 9 candidates, out of the earlier shortlist of 18,  will undergo an intensive assessment in Russia by experts from Roscosmos.

After the assessment, UAE will choose the first Emirati astronaut corps of 4 Emirati astronauts.

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. The screening process may take 14 days per student.

His Excellency Yousuf Al Shaibani, Director General of the MBRSC, said “ 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.

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