Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince, Chairman of the Executive Council of Dubai and President of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), has selected Abdalla AlHammadi as the primary analog astronaut for the UAE Analog Mission#1, as part of the Scientific International Research in Unique Terrestrial Station (SIRIUS) 20/21, an eight-month analog mission, that will be conducted at the NEK ground-based analogue facility in Moscow, Russia beginning November 4 2021.
AlHammadi will be joined by three analog astronauts from Russia’s Institute of Biomedical Problems of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IBMP) along with two analog astronauts from the US space agency, NASA. They will be part of CrewONE and their mission will focus on studying the effects of isolation and confinement on human psychology, physiology and team dynamics to help prepare for long-duration space exploration.
Emirati analog astronaut Saleh AlAmeri will serve as the back-up candidate for the mission and support Abdalla from the operations centre and will also study data sets obtained from the experiments conducted during the mission.
Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori, Chairman, MBRSC said: “We have the opportunity to gain unique experiences through the SIRIUS 20/21 analog mission and share our insights to inspire future generations of scientists and engineers for long-duration space exploration. Over the past two decades, the UAE has immensely contributed to the global space sector through multiple space programmes and initiatives and the analog mission is a continuation of that journey. The advancement of the space sector is a key priority for the UAE and will remain so as announced by our leadership in the vision for the next 50 years.”
Yousuf Hamad AlShaibani, Director-General, MBRSC added: “Our participation in the analog mission reinforces and builds on the UAE’s long history of collaborative initiatives that benefit humanity and ensures the long-term growth of the global space economy. The exacting requirements of the analog mission are also a welcome opportunity to prepare for the UAE’s Mars 2117 Programme and create a knowledge bank for future generations. We are confident that Abdalla along with Saleh will experience the weight of responsibility to become trailblazers of tomorrow through the current mission.”
The CrewONE analog astronauts will conduct over 70 experiments during the mission. Five entries from four universities in the UAE in the fields of physiology, psychology and biology are also part of these experiments that were selected after consultation with the mission partners in Russia.
One of the research topics selected for the mission is from the Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences, which focuses on the effects of prolonged exposure to a space analog environment on cardiovascular variability and cardiopostural interactions. Meanwhile, the research topic selected from the University of Sharjah proposes the study of delineating the effects of stress-induced by confinement and isolation on circulatory and skeletal muscle function of crewmembers during the mission measuring clinical, genomics, transcriptomic, and proteomics parameters.
Other selected topics for the mission include the American University of Sharjah’s research on the mitigation of mental stress in isolation and confined environment, while the United Arab Emirates University has proposed research on the psychological challenges of isolation during human spaceflight: the role of motivational dynamics and the high intense intermittent training as a countermeasure to prevent bone loss and insulin resistance in space environment.
The UAE’s participation in the SIRIUS mission will play a key role in developing Emirati capabilities and contribute to the development of the Mars 2117 Programme, which aims to establish human colonies on Mars by 2117. The Mars 2117 initiative is funded by the ICT fund of the Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority.