The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) has announced that nine candidates have qualified for the final phase to find the first Emirati to be sent into space.
The programme aims to send the first Emirati astronaut to the International Space Station by April 2019.
The final nine candidates, out of an earlier shortlist of 18, will now undergo assessment from specialists in Russia from Roscosmos.
Yousuf Al Shaibani, director general of the MBRSC, said: “The last phase of the evaluation process for the nine candidates will be a major step in choosing the best candidate to represent the UAE in space and carry out national missions assigned to space exploration and scientific research to benefit humanity.
“This supports the objectives of the UAE Astronauts Programme, as well as the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, to build national capabilities in space science and take this sector to strategic levels.”
After the assessment in Russia, the UAE will be choosing the first corps of four Emirati astronauts.
The tests will be conducted by experts from Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre and will include intensive medical and physical tests to ensure candidates are ready for special space-related training.
Recently, the UAE and Russia signed an agreement to send the first Emirati astronaut to participate in scientific research on a Russian space mission to the ISS, aboard a Soyuz-MS spacecraft.
Two astronauts from the Emirati corps will be trained in Russia, one as the primary astronaut and the other as backup.
One of the pair will be joining a Russian commander and an American astronaut on the Soyuz MS-12 spaceflight which will take off for ISS in April 2019. The others will receive extensive training for future long duration space missions.