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UAE's newest astronauts gear up for space training, hope to 'make country proud'

nandini@khaleejtimes.com Filed on July 7, 2021
Photo: Wam

They are currently undergoing in-house training to bolster their physical and psychological fitness.


UAE's newest astronauts are keenly aware of the weight of responsibility before them as they begin preparing for future space exploits — but are eager to make their country proud.

These were the thoughts of Nora Al Matrooshi and Mohammed Al Mulla, who addressed the media in Dubai at a press conference on Wednesday.

The Emirati astronauts, who form the second batch of the UAE Astronaut Programme, are currently undergoing in-house training to bolster their physical and psychological fitness. The regimen includes swimming, scuba diving, survival exercise, stamina improvement, aircraft flying classes, and Russian language training.

Speaking to the media for the first time since being chosen as part of the new crop of astronauts, Nora Al Matrooshi said, “I have started feeling more responsible ever since I was chosen. It takes passion, ambition, years of hard work, and never giving up to reach your goals. My dream has finally come through."

The 28-year-old told of how it all started with her teacher setting up a tent in the middle of the classroom and telling the students they were going to the moon. "That was the inception of my dream," she recalled. "I thank the UAE leadership for giving us the opportunity we have got.”

Later this year, the duo will join the country’s veteran astronauts Hazza Al Mansouri and Sultan Al Neyadi for an arduous training exercise at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Texas in the US.

This training is aimed at creating a longer history-making journey to the International Space Station (ISS) eventually.

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Astronaut Mohammed Al Mulla said, “It’s been one year of intense hard work, entailing a lot exams, interviews, medical tests, and various stages of selections conducted by the UAE and NASA astronauts. I am very proud to be picked after the very difficult stages of selection."

He said, now, there are no concerns — only challenges. "I feel a big sense of responsibility, because the UAE is an important country on the global stage. I want to represent my country in the best possible way. I am truly grateful to the country’s wise leadership.”

Nandini Sircar





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