UAE's first rendezvous with space set for April 5
Dubai - The astronaut who will be selected as the first one to head to space will be announced later this year.
UAE's first astronaut will head to the International Space Station on April 5, 2019, and will return on April 16, the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) has revealed.
Salem Al Marri, the manager of the UAE Astronaut Programme, confirmed those dates to Khaleej Times.
Hazza Al Mansouri and Sultan Al Niyadi were announced as the country's first two astronauts earlier this month and both are currently in Russia for training. Only one of them will be chosen to fly to the ISS onboard the Russian spacecraft, Soyuz MS-12, for the 12-day trip. He will be joined by a Russian commander and an American flight engineer.
"We are all excited and busy working towards the goal of getting our team ready for the mission in April, a lot of hard work and dedication has gone into this and a lot more to come especially from the candidates during training," Al Marri told Khaleej Times on September 29.
The astronaut who will be selected as the first one to head to space will be announced later this year.
The two astronauts come from different professional backgrounds. Al Mansouri is a military fighter pilot and has 14 years of experience in military aviation. In 2016, he qualified to be an aeronautical pilot and now pilots an F-16B60 aircraft.
Meanwhile, Al Niyadi has a PhD in Data Leakage Prevention Technology from Griffith University in Australia, as well as a Master's degree in Information and Networks Security from the same university. He also has a Bachelor's degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering from Brighton University in the UK.
MBRSC had launched the UAE Astronaut Programme towards the end of 2017 and received 4,022 applications from Emiratis.
The final two astronauts completed six phases of medical, psychological, advanced medical tests, a series of interviews - in cooperation with NASA - as well as advanced medical tests by Russian Space Agency, Roscosmos.
When the two astronauts were announced, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, had tweeted: "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 Dh20 billion, and we have aspirations without limits ... When given the opportunity, Arabs can reach for the stars."