In a new Arab achievement, the UAE has announced the selection of the first two Emirati astronauts, Hazza Ali Abdan Al Mansouri and Sultan Saif Hamad Al Neyadi, in cooperation with the Russian space agency, Roscosmos State Corporation for Space Activities, among the 4,000 young men and women who have been tested for the UAE Astronaut Programme, which aims to qualify and prepare Emirati astronauts for scientific missions in outer space.
One of the astronauts will fly into space next April as the first Emirati astronaut on a 10-day mission as part of the Russian space mission to the International Space Station aboard the Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft. The second astronaut will serve as a replacement.
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, congratulated Al Mansouri and Al Neyadi for their selection, saying, "Hazza and Sultan represent a new stage for the UAE youth and raise the aspirations of new generations after them. Our dreams embrace space ... and we are proud of our youth, and our future is based on a solid scientific foundation.
"We have the only Mars probe programme in the region; our satellite industry has realised its full potential; we have UAE astronauts; we have a space industry worth AED20 billion, and we have aspirations without limits... when given the opportunity, Arabs can reach for the stars."
He concluded by saying that the UAE is accomplishing outstanding achievements in the space sector and Emirati youth represent all Arab youth.
His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, congratulated Al Mansouri and Al Neyadi on passing the tests and demonstrating their abilities and capabilities in the space programme. He also wished them success in carrying out the scientific tasks entrusted to them.
His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed added that the achievements of Hazza and Sultan and their desire to provide a qualitative national addition reflect the aspirations of the UAE youth and their determination to reach the highest levels in all fields.
Sheikh Mohamed said, "As space has no limits, there are also no limits to our ambitions to accomplish greater achievements for our country."
He added that the UAE’s goal, under the presidency of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to help the journey of humanity to space is part of its keenness to help advance the international efforts to serve humanity.
Al Mansouri and Al Niyadi reach the final stage of the competition out of 4,022 applicants, by completing six phases of medical, psychological and advanced tests and a series of interviews, in cooperation with NASA, as well as advanced medical tests by Roscosmos.
Thirty-four-year-old Hazaa Ali Abdan Khalfan Al Mansouri has a Bachelor’s Degree in Aviation Science and Military Aviation from the Khalifa bin Zayed Air College, has 14 years of military aviation experience, and has completed training programmes both inside and outside the country, including advanced courses on rescuing people from drowning, rotation training, acceleration up to 9Gs and red flag exercises in the United States, US. In 2016, Al Mansouri qualified to be an aeronautical pilot and now pilots an F-16B60 aircraft.
Thirty-seven year old Sultan Saif Muftah Hamad Al Niyadi has a PhD in Data Leakage Prevention Technology from Griffith University in Australia that he had obtained in 2016, as well as a Master’s degree in Information and Networks Security from the same university, a Bachelor’s degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering from Brighton University in the United Kingdom, UK, and completed a general education programme in IT in the UK in 2001.
The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre launched the Emirates Astronauts Programme in December 2017 and created an e-registration portal for those who aim to be the first Emirati astronaut.