Emirati astronauts start training at Nasa’s Johnson Space Centre - GulfToday

Emirati astronauts start training at Nasa’s Johnson Space Centre


The astronauts have begun their training with Nasa’s Astronaut Candidate Class of 2021 at the Johnson Space Centre.

Gulf Today, Staff Reporter

The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) on Tuesday announced that Mohammad AlMulla and Nora AlMatrooshi, from the second batch of the UAE Astronaut Programme, have begun their training with Nasa’s Astronaut Candidate Class of 2021 at the Johnson Space Centre in Houston, USA.

Over the next two years of the programme, Mohammad and Nora will train in five major categories: operating and maintaining the International Space Station’s complex systems, training for spacewalks, developing complex robotics skills, safely operating a T-38 training jet, and Russian language skills. Once qualified, the astronauts could be assigned to missions that involve performing research aboard the International Space Station or undertake space missions, among others.

The astronauts had undergone in-house training at MBRSC in the UAE, which included swimming, scuba diving, survival exercise, stamina improvement, aircraft flying classes and Russian language training before heading to Houston.

The UAE Astronaut Programme is one of the projects managed by the UAE’s National Space Programme and funded by the ICT Fund of the Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA), which aims to support research and development in the ICT sector in the UAE and promote the country’s integration on the global stage.

The first female Arab astronaut, Nora Al Matrooshi, is one of its graduates and had obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the university in 2015, the United Arab Emirates University announced.

Zaki Anwar Nusseibeh, the Cultural Adviser to the President of the UAE and the Chancellor of UAE University, expressed his deep appreciation and gratitude to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, for his trust in the potential and abilities of the UAE’s youth in opening and exploring new prospects in the fields of science, technology, and innovation, and to fulfil the UAE’s space ambitions.

“We are delighted that one of our graduates was selected as the first Emirati astronaut. This reflects the UAEU’s commitment to supporting its students by broadening their horizons, boosting their capability in scientific research, and guiding their educational journey to the right path offered with an educational environment that follows the highest international standards in this field,” he said.

“We are proud of the UAE’s sons and daughters whose achievements bring us closer to fulfilling our beloved country’s ambitions to take part in planning and creating the future. The knowledge and experience of our pioneering national cadres inspire the future generations to raise the bar of ambition, challenge, and distinction in every field possible,” he added.

He concluded his statement by saying, “The UAEU, being the University of the Future, stresses its commitment to devoting relentless efforts to provide its students with the best scientific research curricula. Keeping up with the country’s ambitions and strategic vision to build a strong nation armed with knowledge and science, UAEU vouches to contribute by enabling the future generations in supporting the Emirate’s efforts towards growth and sustainable development.”

The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre, founded in 2006, is home to the UAE National Space Programme. The Centre builds and operates earth observation satellites, offering imaging and data analysis services to clients around the world. It has launched the DubaiSat-1, DubaiSat-2 and the KhalifaSat, which was developed 100% in the UAE by a team of highly qualified Emirati engineers. The Centre also launched the Emirates Mars Mission “Hope Probe”, which became the first Arab interplanetary mission to reach the Martian orbit on 9 February 2021. The Hope Probe is currently gathering key scientific data about Mars’ atmosphere.

Furthermore, the Centre has announced the launch of the Emirates Lunar Mission, the first Emirati and Arab mission to explore the Moon and plans to develop MBZ-SAT, the most advanced commercial satellite in the region in the field of high-resolution satellite imagery. The Centre is also responsible for the UAE Astronaut Programme, which saw the launch of Hazzaa AlMansoori, the first Emirati astronaut, to the International Space Station on a scientific mission in 2019, and the development of the Mars 2117 Programme to build a human colony on Mars.

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