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Emirati astronauts to graduate from NASA training programme

Their training encompassed a wide array of critical skills, including spacewalking, robotics, space station systems, T-38 jet proficiency, and Russian language.
Photo credit: Robert Markowitz/MBRSC

The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) has announced that astronauts Nora AlMatrooshi and Mohammad AlMulla, part of the second batch of the UAE Astronaut Programme, will officially graduate from the 2021 NASA Astronaut Candidate Class training programme on March 5 at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, USA.

Following an intensive training regimen that began in January 2022, AlMatrooshi and AlMulla are set to conclude over two years of rigorous preparation, rendering them eligible for diverse spaceflight assignments. Their training encompassed a broad spectrum of critical skills, ranging from spacewalking and robotics to space station systems, T-38 jet proficiency, and Russian language proficiency.

The 2021 class comprises ten NASA candidates alongside the UAE’s AlMulla and AlMatrooshi, the latter being the first female Arab astronaut. At the graduation ceremony, each candidate will be bestowed with an astronaut pin, symbolising their graduation and qualifying them for future space missions, thereby enabling them to contribute to ongoing and forthcoming explorations.

The selection of Emirati astronauts for the second batch of the UAE Astronaut Programme was announced in 2021 by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. MBRSC received 4,305 applications for the positions, and candidates underwent several phases of evaluation and qualification in accordance with international standards before the final two were selected.

The UAE Astronaut Programme falls under the purview of MBRSC as part of the UAE’s National Space Programme and is funded by the ICT Fund of the Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA). Its objective is to support research and development in the ICT sector in the UAE and promote the country’s integration on the global stage.