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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 October 2018

Race to be the first Emirati in space has shortened to just 39 men and women

Tests begin this week to decide who will fly to the International Space Centre in April 2019

The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre announced that 39 out of 95 candidates passed the physical and psychological tests to qualify for the preliminary list of the UAE Astronaut Programme. Courtesy: Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre
The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre announced that 39 out of 95 candidates passed the physical and psychological tests to qualify for the preliminary list of the UAE Astronaut Programme. Courtesy: Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre

The race to join the UAE’s first astronaut training programme has shortened to just 39 men and women.

With over 4,000 Emiratis originally applying, a shortlist of 95 has been cut by half again after a series of physical and psychological tests at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre.

Four of those will form the country’s first astronaut corps and travel into space.

The training is part of preparations to send an Emirati astronaut to the International Space Centre in a deal signed with the Russian space programme.

The current round of tests included a range of activities to measure intelligence, aptitude, neurocognitive ability, personality, and working memory, according to the MBRSC.

It was followed by face to face interviews in which the candidates were assessed on their mental and physical strengths to see how they would measure up to the testing conditions in space.

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Yousuf Al Shaibani, Director General of the MBRSC, said: “We are proud of all the Emirati talents who registered for this ambitious programme, and we are happy with their persistence to reach highest levels.”

This week will see the start of more interviews ending with the final selection and involving the MBRSS with experts from other international space agencies.

The first UAE astronaut will lift off next April, as part of the agreement reached with Roscosmos, the Russian Space Agency.

As part of the crew on a Soyuz spaceship, they will spend 10 days conducting scientific research on the ISS before returning to Earth.