The UAE is planning to send astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) on a regular basis in the near future.
This follows the successful space mission of UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi. He stayed aboard the ISS for six months, the longest space mission for any Arab in history.
The first Arab to do the spacewalk
Significantly, Al Neyadi also recorded a new historic achievement as the first Arab to undertake a spacewalk during Expedition 69.
Al Neyadi ventured out of the ISS and completed his spacewalk, bearing the UAE flag and making the UAE the 10th country to perform a spacewalk on the ISS.
Most importantly, Al Neyadi will launch scientific and experimental programs in space. After which, he will share his experiences upon his return to Earth.
Strategic plans for space seats
Salem Humaid AlMarri, director-general of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC), said his office will study strategic plans to secure a seat on upcoming space flights every three or five years.
The UAE now has four qualified astronauts as part of its ambitious astronaut program.
Apart from Al Neyadi, the other three UAE astronauts are Hazza Al Mansouri, Noura Al Matrooshi, and Muhammad Al Mulla.
Both Al Matrooshi and Al Mulla have completed training at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston for future space flights.
UAE’s largest satellite near completion
Meanwhile, AlMarri disclosed that the UAE is now in the process of completing the country’s largest satellite.
He added that the MBZ-SAT is the most advanced satellite in the region once completed. It will provide high-resolution images for commercial use.
The MBZ-SAT will be launched in mid-2024 and was completely designed and manufactured by MBRSC.
The project is seen to further bolster the government’s partnership with the private sector which contributed to the project.
The MBZ-SAT is equipped with an automated system that processes sharp images showing details within an area of less than a square meter round-the-clock. There has been a growing global commercial demand for such images.
Preparations are also now ongoing for future explorations to the moon with the Rashid Rover 2.
Regional space projects
As this developed, AlMarri said the UAE is holding talks with Egypt and Saudi Arabia about collaborating for manufacturing satellites.
The UAE has already collaborated with Bahrain and Kuwait on numerous space projects. For example, the UAE-Bahraini Light-1 CubeSat was successfully launched into orbit from the International Space Station in February this year. With Kuwait, the UAE is discussing partnerships on various training programs.
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