UAE to send man into space in September

UAE to send man into space in September
2 min read
25 February, 2019
The UAE has said it will send a man into space by the end of the year.
The UAE has an ambitious space programme [AFP]
The UAE said it will send a man into orbit in September, as part of the Gulf state's space programme, it was announced on Monday.

One of two men - Hazza al-Mansouri or Sultan al-Nayadi - will blast-off aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket to the International Space Station (ISS) on 25 September and return back to earth on 3 October.

They are part of the Mohammad Bin Rashid Space Centre, which announced the launch date at a press conference in Dubai on Monday.

"Announcing the date is a milestone and a great achievement for the entire Arab region. For the first time, an Arab astronaut will travel to the ISS so the Arab youth can aspire to repeat the accomplishments of their ancestors who excelled in science, mathematics, especially astronomy," said Yousuf Ahmad al-Shaibani, Director-General of MBRSC, according to Gulf News.

"This step also confirms the aspiration of Emiratis... and support the UAE in exploring and preparing national cadres that contribute to enriching scientific progress to serve humanity and making more achievements in the industry."

Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, announced the name of the astronauts last September with the pair sent to Russia for training. Emirati media have closely followed their progress, which has seen them train to handle Russia's sub-zero temperatures.

The UAE has a fledgling space programme and launched its first locally made satellite, KhalifaSat, in October from Japan. It wants to launch a probe to Mars in 2020.

The UAE has even bigger ambitions for its space programme, and by 2020 wants to send a probe to Mars. It also seeks to build a city for 600,000 people on Mars by 2117.

Saudi Arabia also has plans for a space programme, but Virgin boss Richard Branson's apparant boycott of Riyadh following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi might put the kingdom's ambitions in jeapordy.

Agencies contributed to this story