Who will the UAE send into Space?

28 January 2018

Lab Chat

Planning has begun for the United Arab Emirates’ first ever space mission. The Emirates Mars Mission has been in the pipeline since 2015 and now has around 75 people working on the project. This number is expected to double by 2020 in preparation for the launch. But now it’s time to recruit the people that will actually make the journey into space. Read on as we look at the UAE’s search for who to send into space.

UAE Space timelines

Science spans from the micro to the massive and, while some scientists are developing robots that deliver drugs in your body, the UAE is focussed on the big and mighty. The UAE Space Agency was launched in 2014, and has since been working towards a space mission in the early years of next decade. This included a graduate degree programme in Advanced Space Science and the opening of a Space Research Centre in Al-Ain.

However, now, their attention has turned to the spaces in the shuttle. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid has urged young Emirati nationals to apply for the space programme, which has now officially opened the UAE Astronaut Programme. The Space Agency is on the lookout for exceptional scientists, engineers and technicians – the top four of whom will make it into space.

“I invite young Emiratis to register for the UAE Astronaut Programme through the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre,” said Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid. “The most competitive applicants will be selected to be ambassadors for the UAE in space exploration. However, every single Emirati will contribute in his or her own way to the future of the UAE, whether it’s on land, or in the skies.”

A group of candidates will be trained extensively to prepare them for the journey. Over several months, they will go through theory and science training and specialist qualification courses. Only then will they be screened and finally the four final astronauts will be selected. These finalists will eventually join the International Space Station to share and collaborate with other astronauts from around the world.


"The people of the UAE will break barriers, there is no power strong enough to stand in the way of those who believe nothing is impossible," added bin Rashid. "Our ambitious goals are fuelled by dedicated people, who support us until, without hesitation or scepticism, we succeed."

Over the course of 2018, we will get a clearer picture of who will make that landmark journey on behalf of the UAE. So, it’s a case – now more than ever – of “watch this space”!

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