03 December 2018

Lab Chat

History was made recently in Bremen, Germany with the signing of an Implementing Arrangement (IA), that outlines the cooperation between NASA and the UAE Space Agency (UAESA). The IA covers a range of space-related areas, including space exploration and human spaceflight.

Dr Ahman Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Higher Education and Advanced Skills and Chairman of the UAE Space Agency, and James Bridenstine, Administrator at NASA both signed the agreement at the 69th International Astronautical Congress. But what exactly does it entail?

An introduction to NASA

NASA – the National Aeronautics and Space Administration – is renowned across the world as a leader in aeronautics and aerospace research. Previously NACA, they’re most known for getting the first man on the moon in 1969. They were also responsible for the first American to orbit around the earth, a large part of which was down to calculations by Katherine Johnson behind the scenes.

Since then, NASA has also played a key role in climate research and continued to research into life on Mars. But in recent years, we’ve seen the UAE put an impressive amount of time and money into space research, with a view to becoming a world leader, similar to NASA.

Opportunities for the UAE

The new agreement opens up a number of opportunities for the UAE to move into space exploration. It enables the progressive training of UAE astronauts to become an open discussion, as well as allowing the UAE to utilise the International Space Station (ISS).

The ISS is a habitable artificial satellite in Earth’s low orbit. The space station has allowed people to have an ongoing presence in space, conducting research into what would otherwise be guesswork.

Space research benefits everybody across the world, even in everyday life. NASA is hopeful that, in the future, they can use the space station as a step towards exploring other planets and worlds.

Dr Al Falasi explained, “this significant agreement builds on our (the UAE’s) bilateral relationship with NASA and the US space sector”. In recent years, the UAE’s national space sector has reached a much higher stage of advancement. This new agreement will give the UAE further opportunities to progress and grow.

Life on Mars

The IA details opportunities for ground-based research projects, as well as making use of the space station. The UAE’s Mars Scientific City, in collaboration with the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), is a landmark research centre, focusing on simulating living conditions on the Red Planet.

The centre is set to launch in 2020, with NASA and the UAESA currently looking into the likelihood of the centre being successful at conducting field studies and research in space biology, physical sciences and human research.

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