Search for the fantastic four: Sheikh Mohammed begins hunt for first Emirati astronauts

Finest space cadets sought for space exploration programme

Courtesy Ministry of Cabinet Affairs and the Future
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The search for the fantastic four has begun.

That was the message from Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid as the Vice President urged young Emiratis to apply to join the country's space programme.

But while there is a need for a variety of talented scientists, technicians, engineers and ground crew, only finest four will become actual astronauts.

Sheikh Mohammed, also Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, fired the starting gun for the UAE Astronaut Programme on Wednesday.

Finalists will go through training in theory and science, as well as specialty qualification courses, over several months and in accordance with the highest international standards and requirements. The top students will be screened before four Emirati astronauts are selected to form the UAE’s Astronaut Team.

The four will join the International Space Station on the first UAE space mission ever, to share knowledge and experience with other global astronauts.

"On this day, a new chapter in our history begins with the launch of the first UAE Astronaut Programme, dedicated to training and sending four Emirati Astronauts into space," he said.

"The people of the UAE will break barriers, there is no power strong enough to stand in the way of those who believe nothing is impossible." He continued, "Our ambitious goals are fueled by dedicated people, who support us until, without hesitation or scepticism, we succeed."

"I invite young Emiratis to register for the UAE Astronaut Programme through the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre. The most competitive applicants will be selected to be ambassadors for the UAE in space exploration. However, every single Emirati will contribute in his or her own way to the future of the UAE, whether it’s on land, or in the skies."

The four will join the International Space Station on the first UAE space mission ever, to share knowledge and experience with other global astronauts, state news agency WAM reported.

The astronauts will enhance the UAE’s achievements in the space sector by undertaking scientific experiments within an integrated project aimed at exploring biology and ways of adapting living organisms in non-terrestrial environments, for the benefit of mankind.


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The UAE Astronauts Programme is part of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre initiatives, and is dedicated to selecting and training ambitious and successful Emiratis in space exploration. The programme will support the UAE’s mission to become a hub for the space sector in the region and to become global leader in space exploration over the next 50 years, state news agency WAM reported.

In April, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, announced the establishment of the UAE National Space Programme and the launch of the UAE Astronaut Programme, which plans to send the first Emirati astronaut to space and open the door for future explorations.

Salem Al Marri, assistant director general of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre, said putting a UAE astronaut in orbit was part of a “sustainable” human spaceflight programme with a serious purpose, rather than simply for prestige.

“This is an initiative from the UAE government to have a sustainable human spaceflight programme," Mr Al Marri said at the 68th International Astronautical Congress in Australia last October.

The intention is to have the first UAE astronaut in space by 2021, in time for the country’s 50th anniversary.

Recent months have seen a growing number of space projects announced by the UAE.

The year 2021 will also see the arrival of the space probe Hope, as the climax of the Emirates Mars Mission, a joint project with the Mohammed bin Rashid and UAE Space Centres.

The UAE also plans to the build the first human settlement on Mars by 2117.

In September, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid announced plans to establish the Mars Science City, a city that will replicate life on Mars and include laboratories for food, energy and water research.