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HomeNewsThe UAE is sending another astronaut to the International Space Station

The UAE is sending another astronaut to the International Space Station

An Emirati astronaut will join a six-month SpaceX mission launching in 2023, marking a milestone in the country’s fast-growing space program.

Photo credit: SHEIKH MOHAMMED/TWITTER

AN EMIRATI ASTRONAUT is slated to head to the International Space Station next year, after the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre successfully secured a seat on a privately-funded SpaceX Crew-6 mission.

Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid announced the news, after the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) signed a deal with Axiom Space, the commercial spaceflight company heading the new mission.

The agreement, signed at the UAE embassy in Washington, DC, on Wednesday, also states that the Emirati astronaut will serve as a member of the two Expedition crews onboard the space station for six months, according to a statement from Axiom Space. The agreement marks “the first time a commercial space company has made such a mission possible,” observes Axiom Space’s chief executive Michael Suffredini.

MBRSC has yet to announce which astronaut from their program has been selected for the task. However, the new mission ushers the UAE’s astronaut program into new territory. While the country sent its first astronaut to the International Space Station in September 2019, Hazza Al-Mansour only stayed in space for eight days. The upcoming mission is meanwhile expected to last 180 days.

The SpaceX mission will anoint the UAE as just the 11th country in history to embark on long-term space travel, according to Sheikh Mohammed’s announcement. It marks an even bigger milestone for the region, as the Arab world’s first-ever months-long mission in space.

The mission is an “unparalleled breakthrough in the region’s human spaceflight field,” tweeted MBRSC chief Salem Al-Marri, following the announcement. “We will work relentlessly to achieve the goals of this exceptional mission.”