Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 28 May 2020

Search for UAE's next astronauts extended until May

Thousands of hopefuls are eager to join Hazza Al Mansouri and Sultan Al Neyadi as part of the country's booming space programme

The UAE's first two astronauts Hazza Al Mansouri (right) and Sultan Al Neyadi, will be joined by two new members as the country's space programme grows. Pawan Singh/ The National
The UAE's first two astronauts Hazza Al Mansouri (right) and Sultan Al Neyadi, will be joined by two new members as the country's space programme grows. Pawan Singh/ The National

Aspiring astronauts hoping to be part of UAE’s next space mission have a little longer to reach for the stars after the deadline for applicants was extended until May 1.

Officials at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre are keen to allow more time to cast the net far and wide in search of the best candidates in the country.

They will be following in the footsteps of Hazza Al Mansouri, who became the first Emirati to blast off into the skies last year and Dr Sultan Al Neyadi, who was Maj Al Mansouri’s back-up on his momentous journey to the International Space Station.

This new selection process will add two more astronauts to the team.

Speaking to The National, Salem Al Marri, head of the UAE Astronaut Programme, said experiments on the International Space Station require a versatile skillset and he’s keen on a candidate from a scientific background.

“We are targeting certain entities that we think would add a lot of value to our team going forward. We want a diverse team, not just in terms in gender – definitely we’d want to see an Emirati female astronaut – but also the capabilities,” he said.

“We have an engineer and a pilot, but we’d definitely like to see a medical doctor and a teacher. That would be really important. Hazza did 16 experiments on the station that were mainly on his body. When you have a physician, you can allocate different missions to them going forward.”

Earlier this month, it was announced that more than 3,000 applications had been received since the registration process launched on December 14.

A total of 17 per cent of applications are from pilots and 31 per cent are from engineers. A third of the applicants are women.

After the deadline has passed, a committee consisting of 10 specialists, including Maj Al Mansouri and Dr Al Neyadi, will shortlist the applicants based on initial interviews and evaluations.

By June, the medical and group assessments will be held, followed by the first interview round from August to September.

The final interviews will take place in November, with the latest two UAE astronauts to be chosen in January.

Applicants must be aged 18 or older, be in possession of a Stem (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) degree and have to be Emirati.

Emiratis interested in applying should visit the MBRSC website.

Updated: March 30, 2020 05:43 PM

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