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The United Arab Emirates is preparing for an ambitious space exploration agenda as the nation continues to set benchmarks in the global space industry.

Astronauts Ready for “Trailblazing” Missions

In a recent announcement by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, two Emirati astronauts, Mohammed Al Mulla and Nora Al Matrooshi, are set to embark on momentous space missions post their graduation in 2024. The news follows closely on the heels of the return of Emirati astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi from the International Space Station, where he spent half a year.

Mohammed Al Mulla, once a helicopter pilot for the Dubai Police, and Nora Al Matrooshi, distinguished as the first Emirati female astronaut, commenced their training at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, in early 2022. Their training sessions are expected to conclude next year.

Upcoming Space Projects in the Pipeline

As per the information shared by Sheikh Hamdan during a meeting with the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) board, the UAE has some groundbreaking projects underway. One of the highlight ventures is the launch of MBZ-Sat, touted as the most advanced satellite from the Arab world. Another noteworthy undertaking is the Rashid Rover 2 project, signaling the UAE’s continued interest in lunar exploration.

Aiming for a Global Footprint in Space Exploration

The UAE, under the guidance and vision of its leadership, aspires to be more than just a participant in the space race. Sheikh Hamdan remarked on the country’s goal to leverage the knowledge, expertise, and collaborations gathered from various missions and initiatives to cement the UAE’s position as a major global player in space exploration. The overarching aim remains to garner insights and data that would benefit not only the UAE but also the global community.

The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre stands at the forefront of the nation’s space program. Hamad Al Mansoori, chairman of the space centre, emphasized the institution’s role in fostering innovation within the UAE and creating a global platform for sharing expertise.

Moreover, collaboration efforts extend beyond national borders. The satellite Payload Hosting Initiative, a partnership between MBRSC and the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs, exemplifies the UAE’s commitment to promoting space science and technology in developing nations.

Highlighting Individual Achievements

Sheikh Hamdan specifically mentioned Nora Al Matrooshi, who is set to be the first female Emirati astronaut in space. Chosen in April 2021, Al Matrooshi has been training with NASA’s Astronaut Group 23, alongside Mohammed Al Mulla. Their journeys, symbolizing the nation’s dedication to space exploration, are watched keenly by many.

The accomplishments of Sultan Al Neyadi also offer a glimpse of what’s possible for the Arab world in space exploration. Al Neyadi became the first Arab astronaut to undertake a spacewalk and completed a six-month-long mission, the longest by an Arab astronaut.

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