More than 4,000 Emiratis have applied to become the UAE's first astronaut, the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre revealed on Monday.
The programme, funded by ICT Fund of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, launched in December and registration closed at the end of last month.
The 4,022 applicants came from 38 different fields of work and are aged between 17 and 67-years-old.
Around one in three are women, the centre said.
"Today, we are very proud of the sons and daughters of the country who have taken the initiative to join in this ambitious programme,” said Yousef Al Shainani, director-general of the space centre.
“Success of this programmed is underpinned by the talent we hone, and we are looking forward to training a skilled team of individuals to represent our country on board the ISS and contribute to the various experiments and research areas there.”
A selection committee will now screen all the applications and shortlist suitable candidates for the next phase of the selection process. This phase includes a basic medical and psychometric test, an initial interview, an advanced medical and psychometric test and a panel interview.
The top four candidates who successfully complete all stages of the selection process will then come together to form the UAE Astronauts Team by the end of 2018.
Full astronaut training will start in 2019 and is expected to last around two years, with the first UAE astronaut heading into space around 2021 — the 50th anniversary of the UAE.