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Moon, Mars and beyond: UAE’s ambitious push into space

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This year’s Eid al-Adha, or Bakrid, residents of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were greeted in Arabic by well-wishers from outer space – astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi, who was The International Space Station operates six-month missions.fully dressed Candura (traditional clothing for Emirati men), as he did for Eid just over a month ago, Mr Al Neiyadi floated into the dome of the International Space Station (ISS) with little Suhail in his arms, the International Space Station (ISS). A stuffed toy mascot for the space station. The Mohammed bin Rashid Research Center (MBRSC) in Dubai, the institution behind the UAE Astronaut Programme.

In addition to images of Mecca and the Dubai coastline, he enlightened his people through social media posts, ham radio calls and live interactions with students and officials, dubbed the “Sultan of Space”. The 16 daily sunsets and sunrises visible from the orbiting laboratory, and the difficulty of observing Ramadan from space, are all interesting tidbits for fellow Earthlings.

Mr. Al Neyadi is part of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-6 mission, which launched on March 2 to study combustion in microgravity, cardiovascular research and more. Four months into his mission, he has achieved many firsts – the first Arab astronaut on a long-duration space mission, the first Arab astronaut to perform a spacewalk outside the International Space Station and the first astronaut to perform martial arts . Jujitsu in space.

journey

The 42-year-old Emirati astronaut is the second Emirati astronaut to go into space after Hazza Al Mansouri’s voyage in 2019. The extraterrestrial journey of the Arab youth is part of the UAE’s grand vision to become a global powerhouse in space exploration and lead a young generation towards science and technology. Leadership – primarily Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President and Ruler of Abu Dhabi and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Mak, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai Thom – also aware of the need to migrate to a post-oil economy where tourism and space programs can play a big role. In fact, as MBRSC director general Salem al Marri suggested, it could also mean future space tourism business, judging by the UAE’s hard-sell on tourism.

The country will allocate an AED3 billion (Rs 66 billion) National Space Fund in 2022 through the UAE Space Agency “to build national capacity and competitiveness, increase economic contribution to the diversification of the national economy, and strengthen the UAE’s The status of the space “sector”. The fund’s first project is a series of advanced remote sensing satellites that use radar technology to provide unparalleled imaging capabilities. UAE-made satellites such as Khalifasat are already in the Gulf state’s urban planning and future smart cities. play a vital role in.

bunch of items

The UAE’s first female astronaut, Nora al Matrooshi, was selected from 4,305 applicants to train at NASA as part of the UAE Astronaut Program launched in 2017, which is One of the projects managed by MBRSC under the National Space Programme. The Arab Space Pioneers program announced in 2020 is another example; this three-year intensive training program “incubates young talents and expands their career prospects in the region’s emerging space technology fields”.

The Arab Space Pioneers program was launched ahead of the July 20, 2020 launch of the Hope Probe to Mars, the first mission from an Arab country to the Red Planet. The much-touted Emirates Mars mission, which coincides with the country’s 2021 Golden Jubilee, aims to “inspire Arab exploration of outer space, build a space industry in the region, and increase regional and national capabilities in this field”. government.

Designed and developed by MBRSC and launched from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center, the unmanned Hope Probe entered Mars orbit on February 9, 2021 to study the Martian atmosphere and climate throughout the Martian year (687 Earth days). The UAE’s grand plan is to establish the first human settlement on Mars by 2117, in cooperation with major international space agencies.

The MBRSC has an ambitious set of projects for the coming decades – the Emirates 2024 Moon Mission, the Emirates 2028 Interstellar Mission and the Mars 2117 program. The first Emirati lunar rover, the Rashid (named after the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, builder of modern Dubai), reportedly landed on the ground in April. Crashed during the month, the ruler of Dubai announced that the “Rashid 2” will be developed and sent into space. If successful, the UAE would become the first Arab country to land on the moon and the fourth, after the United States, Russia and China.

The UAE’s latest futuristic project is the UAE Asteroid Belt Mission. It will deploy a probe over six years to fly by Earth, Mars and six asteroids before it plans to land on the last asteroid, Justicia, in 2034.

bay and space

The UAE isn’t the only country pouring money and human resources into space. Bahrain and Kuwait have already launched satellites, while Oman plans to build the region’s first spaceport. Saudi Arabia, the largest economy in the GCC, lifted a ban on female drivers in 2018 and has sent the first Arab female astronaut into space. In 2020, Saudi Arabia announced plans to invest $2.1 billion in its space program as part of its Vision 2030 reform agenda. The United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia are also signatories to the U.S.-crafted Artemis Accords, which plan to conduct manned lunar exploration by 2024.

For the UAE, the space program is more than missions. This is a means of job creation, and the industry has provided more than 3,200 jobs so far. More than 57 aerospace companies and 5 aerospace science research centers operate in the country. “The word ‘impossible’ does not exist in our dictionary,” UAE Vice President Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said in 2018. In the space program, the Emiratis seem to follow this path. motto.

Roshin Mary George is an independent journalist based in the UAE

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