News UAE Space Projects

UAE announces two new astronauts, including the first Arab woman astronaut

The two astronauts from the second batch will join the '2021 NASA Astronaut Candidate Class', as part of a joint strategic agreement between the UAE and the USA.
Mohammed Al Mulla and Noura Al Matrooshi

The UAE has announced two new Emirati astronauts, including the country’s first female astronaut. The new batch of astronauts will continue the scientific march that the UAE launched years ago to strengthen the space sector and develop a national team of astronauts capable of achieving the country’s aspirations in scientific exploration and participating in manned space exploration.

The announcement was tweeted by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

He tweeted: “We announce the first Arab female astronaut, among two new astronauts, selected from over 4,000 candidates to be trained with NASA for future space exploration missions. Congratulations Noura Al Matrooshi and Mohammed Al Mulla.”

The new astronauts join Hazzaa AlMansoori and Sultan AlNeyadi to form a team of four under the UAE Astronaut Programme, serving the strategy of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre base on achieving the vision of the wise leadership of the UAE and make it one of the leading nations in the field through the National Space Programme.

The second batch includes the first female Arab astronaut, Nora AlMatrooshi, who obtained a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the UAE University in 2015 and has years of experience in the field of engineering. 

The other astronaut in the second batch of the UAE Astronaut Programme is Mohammed AlMulla, who at the age of 19 obtained a commercial pilot’s license from the Australian Civil Aviation Authority to become the youngest pilot in Dubai Police. He then set another record, becoming the youngest trainer in the same organisation at 28 years, after getting his pilot trainer license from GCAA. AlMulla is currently the Head of Training Department of the Air Wing Centre at Dubai Police.

The announcement of the second batch of astronauts is testimony to the progressive vision of the leadership towards building a knowledge-based economy in a smart community founded by the pillars of technological innovation and scientific research. This defines the journey towards UAE Centennial 2071.

The national space sector recorded investments of more than AED 22bn ($5,98,96,54,220) over the past few years with the selection of astronauts to empower national cadres being an integral project leading this sector. 

Yousuf Hamad AlShaibani, Director General, MBRSC, said: “Today we continue on our journey to script a new scientific history for the Arab region in the field of space exploration, which was launched thanks to the vision of our wise leadership and guidance towards realising our dream of being at the forefront of the space sector. The UAE Astronaut Programme is central to achieving this ambitious vision, as it aims to build a knowledge-based economy for the youth of UAE that will be critical for advanced future projects. This will help us achieve the vision of our leadership that has taught us that nothing is impossible and that the ambition of young Emiratis must go beyond the limits of space.”

He added: “With the first batch of the UAE Astronaut Programme, we were able to catch the world’s attention, by raising the UAE flag on the International Space Station (ISS). We still remember the pride that swept the country when the first Emirati astronaut took off to space. Today, we are moving towards achieving another momentous occasion by announcing the second batch of the UAE Astronaut Programme and will continue on our plans to enhance the capabilities of Emirati youth in the space sector.”

Salem AlMarri, Assistant Director-General for Scientific and Technical Affairs and Head of the UAE Astronaut Programme, MBRSC, commented: “We are delighted to have Nora AlMatrooshi and Mohammed AlMulla join the UAE Astronaut Programme. The team at MBRSC has worked tirelessly after receiving applications to evaluate them according to specific criteria and standards, and then conducted successive evaluations to ensure the selection of the best candidates, until we reached this point to announce the new astronauts.”

He added: “We were excited and proud to see the interest and enthusiasm from Emirati youth when we opened the registration for the second batch of the UAE Astronaut Programme, which allows them to be part of a national programme that aims to represent the UAE in one of the most important technological and scientific fields that will shape the future of the world. Today, our Emirati team has grown with the addition of two new astronauts who will continue to create history with us.”

“The second batch of the UAE Astronaut Programme is also distinguished by the presence of the first female Emirati and Arab astronaut. The UAE, which has always been a pioneer across different fields, has once again proven its resolve to work diligently for both its young men and women. Emirati women are more confident of their abilities and limitless capabilities, as ascertained by female candidates making up 33% of the applicants for the programme. The majority of the applicants also ranged between the ages of 24-36 years old, which reflects the ambition of Emirati youth and their love for making the impossible possible,” AlMarri concluded.

The two astronauts from the second batch of the UAE Astronaut Programme will also join the “2021 NASA Astronaut Candidate Class”, as part of a joint strategic agreement between the UAE and the United States of America, to train them at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

They will be trained in human spaceflight, research and space flight control, and will also be trained to carry out missions in low orbit, using the Human Exploration Research Analog, a unique three-story habitat designed to serve as an analogue for isolation, confinement, and remote conditions in exploration scenarios.

Under the training programme, the astronauts will be trained to manage various missions on the International Space Station, including simulated spacewalks and long-duration stay, along with training in major systems, robotics, extravehicular activity, T-38 jet courses, water and land survival, Russian language skills and theoretical training.