How Many People Applied for the UAE Astronaut Programme?

07 June 2018

Lab Chat

The registration period for the UAE’s Astronaut programme has now closed. Applicants could potentially become the first Emiratis in space, as the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre seeks to represent the nation at the International Space Station. So, with such an exciting prospect, how many people applied for the programme?

An impressive response

Launched in December 2017, the UAE Astronaut Programme was open for just short of four months before closing at the end of March 2018. In this time, it managed to attract over 4,000 Emirati applicants from a wide range of backgrounds. These 4,022 applicants ranged in age from 17 to 67 and came from 38 different areas of work.

Not only that, the programme attracted a mix of both men and women. According to the Space Centre, one in three applicants were women. While in itself this may not seem particularly impressive, recent research has shown that women are being put off science roles and the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) field in general. The female response to Space Centre registration suggests the UAE is making particular progress in this area.

The next steps

So, what happens next for the 4,022 applicants? The next step in the process is screening by a selection committee. They will shortlist and suitable candidates, who will move through to the next phase:

• Basic medical and psychometric testing
• An initial interview

Followed by:
• Advanced medical and psychometric testing
• Panel interviews

From this, the Space Centre will choose the top four candidates. After completing all stages of the process by the end of 2018, they will become the UAE Astronauts Team.

Although lengthy and rigorous, the selection process by no means prepares applicants for space. Once selected, the Astronauts Team will start full training in 2019. Astronaut training will last around two years, taking the team into 2021 ready for their first mission.

Emirates Mars Mission

The Astronauts Team isn’t the only exciting development for the Space Centre. Before they have finished their training, the UAE is planning to send an unmanned probe to Mars. If all goes to plan, the Hope spacecraft will be launched into space on July 2020 with an estimated arrival in Mars’ orbit by early 2021.

Ideally spending at least two years orbiting the planet, Emirates scientists want Hope to contribute to numerous areas of interest, such as why Mars is losing its atmosphere and how its conditions can support life. It may also form the foundation for future projects involving the Astronaut Team themselves.

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