The UAE Astronaut Programme was announced three months ago.
Dubai - The progress of the Hope Mars mission was also discussed during the World Government Summit.
More than 3,000 applications were received from Emiratis who want to be among the first astronauts from the UAE to go to space, Saeed Al Gergawi, programme director of the Mars 2117 programme at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), revealed at the World Government Summit.
Speaking at a Press conference on the sidelines of the summit, Gergawi said the space-related projects by the MBRSC are well underway, as the final designs of the Hope Probe, the unmanned Mars orbiter, was also revealed.
The UAE Astronaut Programme was announced three months ago and the response has been "overwhelming", according to Gergawi, who said that the youngest applicant was 17-years-old and the oldest was 67.
"Around 65 per cent of the applications are from those who hold a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) degree and 21 per cent of them are pilots. So, it's a good mix," he said.
Gergawi said that after the application round closes, they will enter "a long period" of selection and assessment period, where they will select potential astronauts. A total of four Emiratis will be chosen and will be partaking in a two to four-year long training period.
The progress of the Hope Mars mission was also discussed and the testing of the flight model will take place towards the end of this year.
Hope is a three-metre tall probe with 600KW solar panels and will embark soon, on its 55-million-kilometre journey to the Red Planet. Other key features of the interplanetary probe include state-of-the-art spectrometers and imagers that will capture crucial information on the Martian atmosphere and climate.
The Mars 2117 programme "The Mars 2117 programme and the Hope Mars Probe are projects of great importance, as they further boost the UAE's presence among the international space community. The Emirates Mars Mission will give us the first truly global picture of the Martian atmosphere and reflect the country's vision for science and technology fields development. With these projects, we have begun a new journey that will last for decades to come and will speed up human endeavours to explore other planets." Omran Sharaf, project manager of Emirates Mars Mission, said.
Mars 2117 aims to make the first human settlement on Mars by 2117 and is a part of MSBRC's mission to train, empower and inspire Emiratis into all disciplines of scientific research especially astronomy and outer space exploration.
The 2117 Mars initiative is a long-term project, which will first help develop UAE's education, universities and research centres that will empower young Emiratis to enter all disciplines of the scientific research field. The project will also aim to enable the UAE to play a pioneering role in developing life systems on other planets through research, and testing lifestyles on Mars, as well as providing the best solutions to establish the first human settlement on the red planet.
"The Arab world has a long-standing history with space studies and astronomy, with many early pioneers in the field. This rich heritage continues to power our future through our numerous space exploration endeavours, which will establish a lasting legacy for future generations of Emiratis as well as providing inspiration for the region," said Yousuf Hamad Al Shaibani, director-general of MBRSC.
"We are proud to see the UAE among the top nine countries worldwide for space science investments. As relative newcomers to the global space sector, this success is indicative of our consistent efforts to push boundaries and further establish the UAE as the heart of an Arab scientific future," he said.