UAE & NASA Sign a Cooperation Agreement

The United Arab Emirates has announced signing an agreement with NASA for training Emirati astronauts for potential missions to the International Space Station (ISS). HRH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, announced this on 21 September.

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Missions referred to would include space walks and long-haul station mission. This cooperation agreement entails a programme where 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. 

Currently, two UAE Astronauts have already started training at Nasa's Johnson Space Center in Houston on 21 September. Two more Emirati astronauts will also undergo training at Nasa as per the agreement said Salem AlMarri, head of the UAE Astronaut Programme, at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC).

AlMansoori and 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 ISS. Two astronauts to be selected from the second batch of the UAE Astronaut Programme will join the 2021 Nasa Astronaut Candidate Class, in which they will receive the training that US space agency's astronauts undergo. The training programme will prepare Emirati astronauts physically and psychologically for future space missions.

"Training will be for around two-and-a-half years and it will prepare them for long-duration missions to ISS," said AlMarri. He also noted that after the training, the candidate will graduate as "astronauts with user and operative level experience with ISS" so that they can not only be part of a mission but also operate the space station. 

In September 2019, the first UAE astronaut Hazzaa Al-Mansuri went to the ISS on the Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft , who, together with Sultan Al-Neyadi, underwent appropriate training at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center (part of Roscosmos).

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