UAE’s space odyssey: A new chapter

The new mission starring the Sultan of Space will carry “our pride in our youth and scientists, and will carry the ambitions of our people to new horizons”

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Published: Sun 26 Feb 2023, 9:32 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Mar 2023, 12:32 PM

Sultan AlNeyadi has been nicknamed Sultan of Space, as he prepares to shoot off to the outer reaches today, as part of NASA’s SpaceX Crew 6 — an event that will mark the UAE’s triumph of sending the first Arab ever on a long-duration space mission (the country had sent its first astronaut Hazza Al Mansouri 2019, who became the first Emirati to travel to space, but he was there for eight days). AlNeyadi will be stay aboard the ISS — the International Space Station — for six months.

The UAE has an ambitious space programme, that has been applauded around the globe as being trail-blazing, and it’s one of a handful countries in the world that has worked tirelessly in the sector. In February 2021, the year of the UAE’s 50th anniversary, with its Mars Mission — the ‘Hope Probe’ — it became the first Arab nation and fifth country to reach Mars. In December last year, the Emirates Lunar Mission’s Rashid Rover (named after late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum) was launched successfully; the rover is expected to reach the Moon’s surface in April 2023.


The benefits of space exploration are immense. According to NASA, these “include the generation of scientific knowledge, the diffusion of innovation and creation of markets, the inspiration of people around the world, and agreements forged between the countries engaged in exploration”. Clearly, a journey to space is symbolic of great progress and immense scientific zeal. What makes this latest venture of the UAE’s space programme stand out like a shining star is how it reflects the zeal and passion of a young country eager to step into a domain that many would have considered unimaginable — and unconquerable — at one point in time. At the time of the lunar mission launch last year, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, had pointed out that “This historic project is further expanding the UAE’s contribution to the space sector and enabling our people to harness their knowledge and skills to serve their country and humanity.” Like back then, the new mission starring the Sultan of Space will carry “our pride in our youth and scientists, and will carry the ambitions of our people to new horizons”.


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