Announcing the news alongside other statistics HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai wrote, “Today, I received the statistics of applicants for the Emirates Astronaut Program… where we will announce two Emirati astronauts soon… 1,400 Emirati girls among the applicants out of 4,300 applicants… and 130 Emiratis with a PHD in the applicants… proud of desire… proud of passion. Proud of the people of this country..”
The news follows a press conference held last year in November where the head of the UAE Astronaut Programme, Salem Al Marri had affirmed that the next Emirati astronaut to head into space could very well be a woman.“We will choose the most talented and suitable candidate regardless of gender,” Al Marri had said. “They will receive the same treatment as any other candidate and it’s a case of may the best person win.”
This is the second batch of Mohamed Bin Rashid Space Centre’s (MBRSC) UAE Astronaut Programme and is aimed at finding the next two Emirati astronauts who will join UAE astronauts Hazza AlMansoori and Sultan AlNeyadi on future crewed space flights. AlMansoori is known for making history as the first Emirati to journey to space when he embarked on a successful eight-day mission to the International Space Station in September 2019. Registrations for the second batch of Emirati astronauts opened in December 2019 and have officially closed on May 1.
Over the course of the next two years, the UAE Astronaut Programme will be dedicated to preparing and training the team of Emirati astronauts who will contribute to UAE’s scientific space exploration by participating in crewed space missions. Yousuf Hamad AlShaibani, Director-General, MBRSC, said: “Today, the UAE begins a new chapter in its path towards becoming a leader in the field of space research and exploration. Supporting the UAE’s vision of a prosperous future based on knowledge and scientific research, the UAE Astronaut Programme aims to elevate the UAE among the ranks of the select few countries with an advanced space sector. The Programme also aims to achieve the strategic goals of the UAE’s space sector, including that of making a positive contribution towards creating a better tomorrow for humankind. The inspiring leadership of the UAE has always commended the efforts put in by the team at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre. Their unrivalled support and guidance have led us through this journey and fuelled our passion for achieving our goals in the space sector.”