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UAE, Nasa sign deal to train four Emirati astronauts for advanced space missions
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 21 - 09 - 2020

The UAE's Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on Monday announced that they have signed a strategic agreement to train Emirati astronauts in NASA. This partnership aims to prepare Emirati astronauts for advanced space missions by providing them with the highest level of expertise and knowledge.
Under the agreement, four Emirati astronauts will be provided advanced training. Emirati astronauts Hazzaa AlMansoori and Sultan AlNeyadi are currently taking part in the training as part of the strategic partnership between the two organizations. Two astronauts to be selected from the second batch of the UAE Astronaut Program will also join the 2021 NASA Astronaut Candidate Class, in which they will receive the training that US space agency's astronauts undergo. The training program will prepare Emirati astronauts physically and psychologically for future space missions.
The training program will be conducted at NASA's Johnson Space Center, one of the world's largest centers for spaceflight training, research, and mission control. A pioneer in human space exploration for more than half a century, the Johnson Space Center, founded in 1961 in Houston, has been at the forefront of American human space flight programs.
The program created as part of the new partnership includes the same modules and components featured in the training of NASA astronauts. Under the program, the astronauts will be trained to manage various missions on the International Space Station, including simulated spacewalks and long-duration stay, along with training in major systems, robotics, extravehicular activity, T-38 jet courses, water, and land survival, Russian language skills, and theoretical training. The UAE's participation in the NASA training program reflects the global reputation of the country's space sector and its leadership among spacefaring nations.
Hazzaa AlMansoori and Sultan AlNeyadi had earlier trained at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Moscow in September 2018 as part of their preparation for their launch to the International Space Station.
Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori, Chairman, Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre, said: "The global space sector is based on international cooperation fostered by establishing alliances and building bridges of knowledge with leading international space organizations and agencies. The strategic partnership with NASA, a space pioneer for more than 60 years, supports the strategy of the UAE's National Space Programme. Emirati astronauts will benefit from NASA's extensive infrastructure, experience, and knowledge in spaceflight development and operations."
Al Mansoori further added: "This agreement is a clear testament of the strong economic, cultural and diplomatic ties between the UAE and the USA. The UAE space sector today has advanced expertise that must be enhanced and utilized for future space missions. These accomplishments have raised the global profile of the UAE space sector and enhanced the capabilities of Emirati astronauts."
Yousuf Hamad Al Shaibani, Director General, MBRSC, said: "This agreement supports the objectives of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre to promote the Emirates Astronaut Program and global partnerships for the country in the area of manned spaceflight. This is being achieved through investments in specialized space training and other projects related to scientific research and the development of space technologies. These initiatives pave the way for future strategic partnerships that can support the growth of the UAE's space sector."
Al Shaibani added, "The agreement with NASA aims to increase the readiness of Emirati astronauts and prepare them for future long-term space missions. The partnership reflects our endeavors to lay strong foundations for the sector's continued development."
"The USA and the UAE enjoy a strong relationship in the space sector, and we are excited to extend that relationship with this agreement. The UAE has made extraordinary progress in the space arena in a short amount of time with the successful launch of the Hope Mars probe, the region's first interplanetary spacecraft, the latest example of the country's ambitious space program," said James W Morhard, Deputy Administrator, NASA. "This agreement to train Emirati astronauts will pave the way for even closer relations between our two nations creating new opportunities for the UAE to become involved in the International Space Station, Artemis, and other NASA activities."
Salem AlMarri, Head of the UAE Astronaut Programme, MBRSC, said: "This agreement supports the strategic objectives of the UAE Astronaut Program to enhance the position of the UAE's space sector and contribute, together with counterparts from all across the world, to space research. This initiative represents a quantum leap for the UAE Astronaut Program, which is one of the main pillars for developing scientific cadres and creating future generations of pioneers, in accordance with the highest international standards. It also contributes to realizing the nation's aspirations for promoting scientific exploration in this field."
The UAE Astronaut Program is one of the projects managed by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre and funded by the ICT Fund of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), which aims to support research and development in the ICT sector in the UAE. — WAM


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