About Astronaut Programme
The UAE Astronaut Programme prepares Emirati astronauts for manned missions to the International Space Station (ISS) and other destinations in space. The first of its kind in the Arab world, the programme provides the necessary training, expertise, and qualification for Emirati cadres to represent the UAE, and the Arab world, in future space missions and to conduct scientific experiments that support the global space exploration process.
The UAE Astronaut Programme was initiated in April 2017 by H.H. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates, and H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and, to prepare an Emirati astronaut corps for scientific space exploration missions, creating a culture of scientific endeavour and motivating the youth to pursue space science and technology.
The UAE Astronaut Programme is funded by the ICT Fund of the Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA).
The UAE Astronaut Programme aims to prepare cadres of astronauts according to the highest international standards.
In 2018, astronauts Hazza AlMansoori and Sultan AlNeyadi were selected, from a pool of 4000 applicants who applied to the UAE Astronaut Programme, to form the first batch of the programme. On September 25th 2019, Hazza AlMansoori, the first Emirati astronaut, and Sultan AlNeyadi, as a reserve astronaut for AlMansoori, carried out the first manned scientific mission into space for the United Arab Emirates, on board the International Space Station, under the slogan “Zayed’s Ambition.”
In preparation for the mission to the ISS, AlMansoori and AlNeyadi underwent training exercises specifically designed to suit the requirements and duration of the mission, starting their journey at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre at Star City in Moscow, based on an agreement with Roscosmos. They also received training in Houston in Texas, and Cologne in Germany, as part of partnership agreements with major space agencies, including NASA, ESA, and JAXA.
The training programme for the ISS mission included comprehensive training on all sections and units of the ISS and how to use its devices and equipment, emergency fire drills, dealing with low pressure and ammonia leaks inside the station, in addition to survival training if the capsule had to land in a cold forest. The astronauts also trained on the spacesuit, weighing up to 10 kg, and how to wear it at zero gravity.
They also trained to perform daily tasks such as preparing food, how to use the camera to document events, taking pictures of the Earth, communicating with the ground stations, and other day-to-day tasks during the mission. The astronauts underwent more than 90 courses, with the total number of training hours exceeding 1,400 hours.
On 25 September 2019, Hazzaa AlMansoori embarked on the UAE’s first scientific mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The mission carried the slogan ‘Zayed’s Ambition’, making the UAE the 19th country worldwide, and the first country in the Arab region, to travel to the ISS.
AlMansoori conducted 31 scientific experiments, out of which 16 were held in cooperation with international space agencies, including Roscosmos, NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). 15 of these experiments involved schools in the UAE as part of MBRSC’s Science in Space initiative.
In 2021, the second batch of the UAE Astronaut Programme- first female Arab astronaut, Nora AlMatrooshi and Mohammad AlMulla – was selected from 4,305 applicants. The two astronauts from the second batch of the UAE Astronaut Programme joined the “2021 NASA Astronaut Candidate Class”, as part of a joint strategic agreement between the UAE and the United States of America, to train them at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.
On April 2022, MBRSC announced the first long-duration Arab astronaut mission making the UAE the 11th country wo to send astronauts on long-duration space missions to the International Space Station. The 6-month mission will launch to the ISS in the Spring of 2023. An Emirati astronaut will take on this mission as part of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-6 where they will be conducting large-scale scientific experiments. In preparation for the mission, MBRSC signed an agreement with Axiom Space aimed at consolidating the collaboration with NASA during the period aboard the ISS.
In July 2022, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates, and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, announced the selection of astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi to participate in the first long-duration Arab astronaut mission, which will be conducted aboard the International Space Station. During the mission, AlNeyadi will conduct a series of advanced experiments and research, in order to reach important scientific results about outer space, in addition to his participation in an awareness and educational program.