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02 December 2023

International Space Station mission carrying first Emirati astronaut launched successfully

Photo: WAM


The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre,MBRSC, announced the successful launch of the space mission carrying the first Emirati astronaut, Hazza Al Mansoori, aboard the Russian spacecraft Soyuz MS-15, at 5:57 pm UAE time.

This is the UAE’s first mission to the International Space Station,ISS, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Al Mansoori is accompanied on the mission by Oleg Skripochka and Jessica Meir.

H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, and Chairman of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre, who witnessed the launch live from MBRSC, dedicated this historic achievement to His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE; His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai; and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

He said the achievement is a reminder of the historical contributions of Arabs to world knowledge and science, which are still being taught today in the world's largest universities and science institutes.

H.H. Sheikh Hamdan expressed his best wishes to the astronaut Hazza Al Mansoori for the completion of the historic mission and the scientific experiments planned as part of it. The mission marks the beginning of a new era in which the UAE is emerging as an important player in the global scientific landscape. The country is set to enter a new stage of advanced scientific development that seeks to contribute to the future of mankind and improve the quality of human life, he said.

He attributed the success of the mission to the exceptional support of the UAE’s leadership, which has given the country’s space aspirations the highest prominence. Our space projects and plans are part of efforts to create the foundations for a future in which the people of the UAE and region will enjoy great prosperity and progress, Sheikh Hamdan added.

The successful launch of the first flight of an Emirati astronaut, aboard the Soyuz MS15 spacecraft from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, represents a major achievement for Arab and Islamic nations. The accomplishment contributes to realising the dream of the father of the nation, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and the vision of the leadership to make the country a leading player in shaping the world’s future.

The launch was attended by Dr. Ahmad bin Abdullah Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Higher Education and Advanced Skills and Chairman of UAE Space Agency; Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori, Chairman of MBRSC; Yousuf Hamad Al Shaibani, Director General of MBRSC; and Salem Al Marri, Head of the UAE Astronaut Programme, apart from senior officials and MBRSC team members. Family members and relatives of Hazza Al Mansoori and Sultan Al Neyadi, the UAE’s first two astronauts, also attended the event.

The UAE Astronaut Programme was launched in April 2017 by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai; and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, with the objective of training the first Emirati astronauts for various scientific missions in space.The mission is part of the UAE Astronaut Programme, which is overseen by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre,MBRSC. The UAE Astronaut Programme is the first integrated programme in the Arab region to prepare national cadres to participate in human space flights and carry out various scientific missions, in addition to becoming a part of the research carried out by the global scientific community to devise solutions to many challenges facing humanity.

On 6 December 2017, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid posted a tweet inviting young Emiratis to register for the UAE Astronaut Programme through the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre. Hazzaa and Sultan responded to His Highness’s invitation, along with 4,020 applicants. The Committee shortlisted over 200 candidates who underwent a series of internationally benchmarked psychometric tests. Following the initial selection phase, 95 candidates were shortlisted. These candidates underwent medical and psychological tests conducted by experts from the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre at the Etihad Airways Medical Centre. On 3 September 2018, the UAE announced the names of the first two Emirati astronauts, Hazzaa Al Mansoori and Sultan Al Neyadi.

Over the course of a year, the astronauts underwent more than 90 courses and over 1,400 hours of training. The trainings were conducted under partnership agreements with major space agencies, NASA, ESA, JAXA, and Roscosmos in Moscow, Dubai, Houston and Cologne.