A journey to the stars has moved one step closer for 95 lucky Emiratis as the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre has announced it has compiled a shortlist for the UAE Astronaut Programme.
From 4,022 applicants, there are 95 still standing, of which 75 are male and 20 are female. They are from across the UAE and aged between 23 and 48 years old, with backgrounds in aviation, the military, medicine, science, technology and education.
The list includes 64 candidates under the age of 35 and 31 candidates over 35.
The list will now be whittled down to the final four.
Hamad Al Mansoori, chairman of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, said everyone was delighted by the calibre of the applicants.
“The qualified candidates represent the future of the UAE and reflect this generations’ aspirations to shape a future that tells the story of the country’s glorious legacy," he said.
More than 200 candidates were initially longlisted. They then took psychometric tests for up to six hours that analysed IQ, emotional stability and adaptability, and from these the final shortlist was selected.
It's expected that the final candidates as well as two reservists will be selected by the end of the year.
These finalists will undergo an intensive training programme where they will even have to learn Russian. They'll also have to become skilled in robotics, navigation, medical aid and resource management.
The team will be the first UAE Astronaut Corps and the first Emirati astronaut could be sent to the International Space Station in just a few years.
Last month, a new physics degree was announced that will offer students direct access to the UAE's burgeoning space programme to boost their interest and ready them for the final frontier of science.
The four-year course at American University of Sharjah will offer practical, hands-on training and also internships at the UAE Space Agency and the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre.
It also aims to help with the Emirates Mars Mission slated for 2020.