The UAE has announced the names of the first two astronauts that will travel to the International Space Station. Emirati nationals, Hazza Ali Abdan Al Mansouri, 34, and Sultan Hamad Al-Neyadi, 37, were chosen from more than 4,000 candidates who applied for the UAE astronaut programme, launched earlier this year.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Ruler of the Emirate of Dubai, commented that the two Emirati nationals will “raise the bar of ambitions for future Emirati generations.”
The two Emiratis were among the final four chosen for a final evaluation phase after they underwent rigorous assessment in Russia by experts from the Russian space agency, Roscosmos State Corporation for Space Activities.
One of the astronauts is scheduled to travel to space in April, on a 10-day Russian mission to the International Space Station aboard the Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft. The second astronaut will stay in reserve.
The UAE leadership has invested USD 6 million in its space initiatives, which include an ambitious 100-year programme to establish habitation in Mars, a scientific city that simulates a Martian colony in Dubai and a plan to send four Emirati astronauts to ISS within the next five years.