NASA and the UAE Space Agency (UAESA) have signed an Implementing Arrangement (IA) that outlines cooperation across a range of areas related to space exploration and human spaceflight. The document was signed by H.E. Dr Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Higher Education and Advanced Skills, and Chairman of the UAE Space Agency, and James Bridenstine, Administrator at NASA at the 69th International Astronautical Congress in Germany, which is being held between 1–5 October.
The IA falls under the overarching Framework Agreement signed between UAESA and NASA in June 2016, which established a framework for areas of cooperation in ground-based research; sub-orbital research; research and flight activities in low-Earth orbit (LEO); and human and robotic exploration in the vicinity of the moon, on the lunar surface, and beyond.
The new IA enables the training arrangements for UAE astronauts to be discussed. It also provides further opportunities for the UAE to utilise the International Space Station (ISS), and for the UAE Space Agency to contribute to lunar exploration.
H.E. Dr Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Higher Education and Advanced Skills and Chairman of the UAE Space Agency, said: “This significant agreement builds on our bilateral relationship with NASA and the US space sector. The global space sector is built on international collaboration, and we welcome these substantial opportunities to work closer than ever before with our counterparts at NASA. The signing of this agreement reflects the UAE Space Agency’s commitment to further strengthening partnerships with the most important space agencies around the world, with a shared aspiration to launch space exploration projects that benefit humanity in its entirety. It is also in line with the UAE’s objectives of bolstering its presence within the global space sector,” he added.
James Bridenstine, Administrator of NASA, added: “As NASA builds cooperation for the return of humans to the Moon for long-term exploration and utilization, we welcome the opportunity to expand our partnership with the UAE Space Agency as it builds its significant capabilities on Earth, in low-Earth orbit, and beyond. UAE is currently working with US Universities to build an orbiter “Hope”, to launch in 2020 and reach Mars in 2021.I’m delighted to sign this agreement signifying our deepening relationship as we move forward into the next phase of exploration.”
The IA also outlines opportunities for ground-based research projects at the UAE’s Mars Scientific City in collaboration with the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), a landmark research and development facility that aims to simulate conditions on the Red Planet and is set to launch in 2020.
As part of the agreement, and in collaboration with MBRSC, the UAE Space Agency and NASA will explore the feasibility of conducting field studies and research in space biology, physical sciences and human research at the City. The projects will aim to make use of Mars Scientific City and the NASA Human Research Analog, a unique facility dedicated to investigating the effects of spaceflight on human beings.
H.E. Yousuf Al Shaibani, Director General of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), said: “This agreement is particularly notable for MBRSC as it is an introduction to future collaborations across a range of MBRSC programmes — from the UAE Astronaut Program to Mars 2117 project.”