UAE's search for next astronaut down to four candidates

Final four hopefuls are undergoing psychological testing

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The UAE’s search for the country's next astronaut has been whittled down to the final four candidates.

More than 4,000 hopefuls were reduced to 14 in December and the final quartet are undergoing psychological evaluation at Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre.

In the final selection phase, candidates face rigorous tests to ensure they can hold their own in space.

The psychological evaluations are being carried out in collaboration with Emirates airline and began after the candidates completed their final interviews.

Two will be chosen from the final four, with only one expected to go to space. The other will become the reserve.

“In the last phase, the committee measured the candidates’ teamwork capabilities, and other skills such as constructive problem-solving, decision making, execution, management and flexibility, to choose the best candidates for the second batch of the UAE Astronaut Programme,” said Humaid Al Sharhan, from the astronauts office at MBRSC.

Psychological assessment tests resilience, leadership, teamwork and support skills, problem-solving and decision-making, as well as procedures and work management.

There were 4,305 Emirati applicants to join the country’s space fleet, with 1,400 women among them – about 250 more than during its previous astronaut recruitment drive.

In the previous stage, five of the 14 candidates shortlisted were women, raising hopes of another landmark moment for the UAE.

Two UAE citizens will be selected to follow in the footsteps of the first Emirati man in space, Maj Hazza Al Mansouri, and reserve astronaut Dr Sultan Al Neyadi.

Emirati women lead the way in various fields, including the mission to Mars, and the country was top of a global ranking this year for women in parliament.

At  Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre in Dubai 42 per cent of the staff are female.