The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) has received 4,305 applications for the second batch of the UAE Astronaut Programme, up by more than 7 percent from the first batch. The second batch of the Programme is aimed at finding the next two Emirati astronauts who will join the UAE’s astronaut corps and further the country’s ambition for crewed space exploration. The registrations for the second batch of the Programme were officially closed on 1 May.
Earlier today, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai stated in a tweet on his official account on Twitter that two Emirati astronauts will be announced soon. His tweet revealed interesting statistics regarding applicants for the second batch of the UAE Astronaut Programme, including the presence of 130 PhD candidates and 1,400 Emirati women among the 4,305 applicants. His Highness expressed his pride in the desire and passion of the people of the UAE.
Coming within the framework of enhancing national capabilities in the space sector, the second batch aims to select two Emirati astronauts who will join astronauts Hazza AlMansoori and Sultan AlNeyadi on future crewed space flights. The UAE’s space exploration mission serves the MBRSC’s strategy to strengthen the UAE’s position in the international space sector by contributing to and supporting the UAE’s vision of a prosperous future based on knowledge and scientific research. Over the next two years, the UAE Astronaut Programme’s team will focus on preparing and training a team of Emirati astronauts who will fulfil the aspirations of the UAE to contribute to scientific space exploration by participating in crewed space missions.
Projects such as the UAE Astronaut Programme are part of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre’s comprehensive strategy to contribute to shaping the progressive approach of the space sector in the country. The Programme’s goals and ambitions make it a strategic platform for the country’s space exploration. The addition of two more astronauts to the UAE’s astronaut corps will help the country participate in more global space exploration missions and contribute to research that can answer many of the global problems. The legacy of the UAE Astronaut Programme also lies at the heart of MBRSC’s efforts to focus on international cooperation, industry collaboration and scientific diversity to achieve sustainable space exploration.
Women constitute 33 percent of the candidates who applied for the second batch of the Programme. The applicants have an average age of 28 years, with the oldest being 60 years old. The various degrees of the applicants also show a remarkable diversity that highlights their scientific competencies, with 3 percent being PhD holders, 16 percent having a master's degree, while those with a bachelor's degree constituted 48 percent. Data from the applications also show a variety of specialisations pursued by the applicants, which include engineering, medicine, science and business administration at 25 percent, 2 percent, 10 percent and 11 percent, respectively.
Additionally, 93 percent of all applicants received their degrees from local universities inside the UAE. Khalifa University, Zayed University, and the United Arab Emirates University were the top 3 universities among the applicants. The remaining 7 percent of applicants received degrees from foreign universities. Data from the applications also revealed that 40 percent of the applicants were employed in the semi-government sector, 30 percent in the government sector, 21 percent in the military and the remaining in the private sector. The top four organisations that the candidates represent include the UAE Armed Forces, Abu Dhabi Police, Etihad Airways and Emirates Airline.
Yousuf Hamad AlShaibani, Director-General, MBRSC, said: "Today, the UAE begins a new chapter in its path towards becoming a leader in the field of space research and exploration. Supporting the UAE’s vision of a prosperous future based on knowledge and scientific research, the UAE Astronaut Programme aims to elevate the UAE among the ranks of the select few countries with an advanced space sector. The Programme also aims to achieve the strategic goals of the UAE’s space sector, including that of making a positive contribution towards creating a better tomorrow for humankind. The inspiring leadership of the UAE has always commended the efforts put in by the team at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre. Their unrivalled support and guidance have led us through this journey and fuelled our passion for achieving our goals in the space sector."
"The data we received from the applications reflect the desire of the people of the UAE to fulfil their passion in the space sector - despite the challenges - and contribute to shaping the future of the country’s space sector. Despite the difficult circumstances the world is currently going through, facing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, it did not prevent Emiratis in pursuing their ambition to be part of the UAE’s growing space industry. Rather, we saw an increase in the number of registrations for the Programme, which once again affirms that the word impossible is nowhere in the lexicon of an Emirati. We are entering a new era of space exploration, and we are sure that along with Astronauts Hazzaa AlMansoori and Sultan AlNeyadi, the new batch will add further impetus to our ambition for crewed space exploration. Through projects such as the UAE Astronaut Programme, our objective at MBRSC is to get our future generations inspired about the possibilities of space exploration," added AlShaibani.
"The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre is on track to implement its ambitious programmes in the field of space exploration and space sciences. In line with enhancing national capabilities in this field, we need more qualified astronauts to work further on projects that the first batch of the UAE astronauts successfully initiated," he further added.
Registrations for the second batch of the UAE Astronaut Programme opened in early December last year after an announcement by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. MBRSC received nearly 1,000 applications in the first four hours of registrations.
After reviewing all applicants, a committee consisting of 10 specialists, including astronauts, Hazzaa AlMansoori and Sultan AlNeyadi, will shortlist the applicants based on initial interviews and evaluations. The shortlisted candidates will undergo a selection process, which will include personal interviews, physical and mental assessments, and medical examinations. From these shortlisted candidates, two will be selected as the next Emirati astronauts.
Salem AlMarri, Head of the UAE Astronaut Programme at MBRSC, said: "The wise leadership of the UAE believes in the future and wellbeing of humanity, and this has in turn inspired us to turn dreams into reality and provided us with a future strategy aimed at establishing the UAE as leader in all fronts. With the UAE leadership supporting the country’s vital sectors and its agenda, we have realised the dream of reaching space. The second batch of the UAE Astronaut Programme will continue to work further in this direction and boost the presence of Emirati astronauts on the global stage. I can say that we have entered a new era in which the UAE has confirmed the effectiveness of its strategy for the space sector. The UAE Astronaut Programme remains one of MBRSC’s premier projects that has set the tone for future space projects in the UAE and the region. It also serves as an inspiration for future generations to achieve new successes and discoveries, benefiting from the accumulated experiences of the scientific outcome of the Centre’s output."
"The large number of applications that we have received demonstrates a strong interest to take part in UAE’s future crewed space missions and contribute to advancing scientific knowledge beneficial to humankind. This reflects the strong educational system that UAE offers, and the efficiency of the educational infrastructure established by the UAE leadership at all levels. It is also exciting to see the breadth of qualifications, expertise and skills that our applicants offer," added AlMarri.
The second batch of the UAE Astronaut Programme was open to Emiratis above 18 years of age with a bachelor’s degree. All professions including engineers to pilots, military personnel to teachers, those involved in STEM and other professions, could apply for the Programme.
Astronaut Hazzaa AlMansoori said, "I am pleased to see that the number of applicants for the second batch of the UAE Astronaut Programme has increased from the previous batch. This is a positive sign for MBRSC and the future of the space sector in the region. The UAE’s achievements in the field of space and space exploration are a result of dedicated hard work. Through the UAE Astronaut Programme, MBRSC has cultivated a passion amongst Emiratis for space and its related fields. I look forward to contributing to the second batch of the Programme and sharing with the new batch the experiences and knowledge that we gained during our journey as astronauts."
Astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi said, "The UAE Astronaut Programme is a mark of our vision for the future and pride of the nation. The increase in the number of applications indicates the interest and inspiration that the Programme has garnered over the last two years and the high level of aspiration of Emiratis and their determination to aim for the highest ranks."
The UAE Astronaut Programme is one of the projects managed by the UAE’s National Space Programme and funded by the ICT Fund of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), which aims to support research and development in the ICT sector in the UAE and promote the country’s integration on the global stage.
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