Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, said Emirati astronauts Mohammed Al Mulla and Nora Al Matrooshi will be ready to embark on “trailblazing space missions” after graduation in 2024.
Sheikh Hamdan offered an update on the UAE's ambitious space exploration plans after chairing a meeting of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre.
“The next phase of our journey will see groundbreaking Emirati space ventures,” Sheikh Hamdan said.
“We aim to be a major player in shaping the future of space exploration. We seek to raise the UAE’s stature in the global space industry with exceptional projects that will bring enduring benefits to humanity.”
Last month, Emirati astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi returned to Earth after spending six months on the International Space Station.
However, the UAE is wasting no time in taking the next steps on its space programme.
Mr Al Mulla, a former Dubai Police helicopter pilot, and Ms Al Matrooshi, an engineer and the first Emirati female astronaut, were chosen to be part of the UAE corps in 2021 – before being sent to train with Nasa in Houston, Texas.
“By 2024, Mohammed Al Mulla and Nora Al Matrooshi will embark on trailblazing space missions,” Sheikh Hamdan posted on his account on X.
Updates on projects
“Next year, we will launch MBZ-Sat, the Arab world’s most advanced satellite to date,” said Sheikh Hamdan.
“The Rashid Rover 2 project will continue on, as our determination to explore the moon remains. Our journey has just started and the best is yet to come.”
During the meeting of the space centre's board, Sheikh Hamdan was briefed on its future projects.
“In the next phase of our journey, we are set to implement exceptional projects that will open new horizons for space exploration,” said Sheikh Hamdan.
“The UAE’s rapidly advancing space sector is poised to evolve into a significant global contributor in the field, drawing from the rich expertise, knowledge and strategic partnerships we have acquired through unique initiatives and missions.
“The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre is a pivotal contributor to the UAE's space programme, and we remain committed to enhancing the nation’s stature as a key player in shaping the future of space exploration in line with the leadership’s vision.
“Our goal is to unearth new data and gain knowledge and insights that will bring benefits not just for our nation but also for the region and the global community.
“The UAE has set high standards for space excellence and will continue to launch ambitious missions that resonate with our leadership’s vision to advance our nation’s role as an innovator and trailblazer in the region and the world.”
The satellite Payload Hosting Initiative was also discussed at the meeting. The initiative is a joint effort by the space centre and the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs to promote space science and technology in developing countries.
“We will continue to bolster the UAE’s role in space exploration. We will keep pace with the evolving space scene by strategically enhancing our capabilities and preparing for the future,” said Hamad Al Mansoori, chairman of the space centre.
“At MBRSC, we do not only aim to nurture UAE innovation and talent, but also establish a global platform for sharing knowledge, expertise and data to build the future of space.”