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Why an Emirati Woman Could Be the UAE’s Next Astronaut

female astronaut

Photo: Getty

Twenty Emirati women are currently in the running to be chosen as the UAE’s next astronaut. The extensive search for the next space cadets for the UAE Astronaut Programme has taken over a year, with an initial 4,305 applicants having to be narrowed down to just 61 remaining candidates. At the end of 2020, two individuals will be selected from the 61 candidates, as travelers for the country’s next space mission. It could just be that a woman will be the UAE’s astronaut with Emirati women making up a third of the remaining hopefuls, with 20 female contenders and 41 males.

According to the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC) the two applicants chosen will join the “2021 NASA Astronaut Candidate Class” and will receive training at the Johnson Space Center in the US, in preparation for future space missions. Those who have been shortlisted are now in the final stages of the advanced medical testing before they take part in interviews conducted by experts from the MBRSC.

“We have reached an important stage in the programme’s journey to select the second batch of Emirati astronauts, who will participate in scientific missions in space,” said director-general of the MBRSC, Yousuf Al Shaibani. “We are also proud of the center’s Emirati experts and the efforts they have put in to find the right candidates for the Emirati astronaut corps. Our capabilities in the space sector continue to grow at a rapid pace, and the two new Emirati astronauts will add great momentum to strengthening the ambition of the UAE’s space exploration missions,” she added.

A factsheet based on the shortlist revealed that the average age of the applicants is 28 years and also highlighted that the majority of the candidates, at 54%, work in the engineering sector, with others coming from aviation, military, and healthcare backgrounds.

The chosen pair will look to follow in the footsteps of Maj Hazza Al Mansouri and Dr. Sultan Al Neyadi, the UAE’s first astronauts.

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