Over 3,000 Emiratis apply to become UAE’s next astronaut - GulfToday

Over 3,000 Emiratis apply to become UAE’s next astronaut

MRBSC conference

MRBSC team with the two UAE astronauts at the conference. WAM

The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, MBRSC, announced on Tuesday that over 3,000 Emirati men and women have applied to become the next UAE astronaut on future space missions.

UAE astronauts Hazza Al Mansooru and Sultan Al Neyadi joined MBRSC team to announce the registration figures so far. Registration for the programme will be closing by 31st March 2020.

According to MBRSC, 33 percent of the applications received so far were from women. However, the team will be selecting only two individuals.

The average age of applicants is 28, with the youngest applicant at just 17 years old and the oldest, 60. A majority of the registrations have come from Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah.

Speaking at the press conference, Yousuf Hamad Al Shaibani, Director-General, MBRSC emphasised the significance of this for the country, highlighting that the UAE will have four astronauts qualified to participate in global space missions, which, in turn, contributes greatly to the nation’s growing space sector.

Al Shaibani said, "Today, we are proud to announce that we will be selecting two astronauts from the second batch of applications for the UAE Astronaut Programme, which will bring the total number of qualified Emirati astronauts up to four. The UAE's space programme is young. However, we have managed to grow quickly by thinking big and acting fast."

The UAE Astronaut Programme was initiated in April 2017, to prepare Emirati astronaut corps for scientific space exploration missions, creating a culture of systematic endeavour and motivating the youth to pursue space science. The first UAE Astronaut Programme received over 4,000 applicants.

Salem AlMarri, Head of the UAE Astronaut Programme at MBRSC, said, "At the core of the UAE Astronaut Programme are its key objectives of supporting the country's vision of building a knowledge-based economy, contributing to global scientific efforts for space research and exploration, inspiring future generations to pursue their dreams, and building a formidable position of the country's space sector.

He added, "We have received registrations from Emiratis from different walks of life. This response symbolises the distance that Emirati men and women are willing to go for their country.”

Speaking about his experience, astronaut Hazzaa Al Mansoori said, "Representing the UAE in space has been one of the most fulfilling and proud moments for me.

Sultan Al Neyadi, who trained along with Al Mansoori as a backup astronaut, said, "Hazzaa and I have been traveling to schools across the UAE and sharing our experiences with the youth. It is exciting to see how Mission One has inspired them to pursue space science.

To qualify for the UAE Astronaut Programme, applicants should be UAE nationals above 18 years of age with a bachelor's degree. All professions will be considered, from engineers to pilots, military personnel to teachers, those involved in STEM and other professions.

After reviewing all applicants, a committee consisting of 10 specialists, including astronauts Hazzaa Al Mansoori and Sultan Al Neyadi, will shortlist the applicants based on initial interviews and evaluations. The shortlisted candidates will undergo a selection process, after which, two will be selected as the next Emirati astronauts.

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 Regulatory Authority, TRA.


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