Dubai: Take a selfie with Sultan AlNeyadi's iconic spacewalk suit, UAE's rover to the Moon

Pavilion at Dubai Airshow takes visitors on a journey to space and beyond

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Nandini Sircar

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Photos: Shihab/KT
Photos: Shihab/KT

Published: Wed 15 Nov 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Wed 15 Nov 2023, 8:30 PM

For those fascinated by the cosmos, the Space Pavilion at the Dubai Airshow proudly displays a replica of the EMU spacesuit, worn by Emirati astronaut Sultan al Neyadi during his historic spacewalk in April.

Alongside the Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) suit, visitors at the fair were also seen exploring the SpaceX pressure suit tailored for astronauts that are donned during launch and re-entry to Earth. Adjacent to the EMU suit stands a prototype of the UAE’s Lunar rover.

Attendees were observed capturing moments with selfies alongside these remarkable exhibits.

This year, the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) and the UAE Space Agency have made a grand return to the Dubai Airshow, presenting an expanded pavilion that stands as the largest in its history, featuring prominent companies in the field.

EMU suit on display

The EMU spacesuit weighing around 128kg, which can have up to 16 layers, is showcased in a glass case along with the helmet.

People are observed being attracted to inquire about the suit, which features a cooling garment embedded with water tubes. Additionally, it incorporates a communication system connecting spacewalkers, the International Space Station (ISS), and mission control teams on Earth.

The gloves come with built-in heaters. Additionally, the special suit contains a control panel that manages the backpack. Coloured stripes located on the left shoulder aid in identifying the spacewalkers.

Astronauts are shielded from intense solar rays and supplied with oxygen by the helmet. The portable life support system integrated into the suit comprises a carbon dioxide removal mechanism, a two-way radio, a water tank, and a cooling garment.

The rigid upper torso interfaces the suit with the power systems. The lower torso features a sequence of rings designed to link astronauts to the ISS and affix tools.

Rashid Rover

Attendees were also seen taken pictures of the mini Rashid Rover that crash-landed on the Moon’s surface in April 2023.

Mission control lost communication with the Hakuto-R lander, constructed by Japan's ispace inc, just moments before it was scheduled to touch down.

Concurrently, the MBRSC is striving to launch a fresh mission to the Moon.

National Space Academy unveiled

Meanwhile, on the sidelines of the Dubai Airshow, and with the support of the National Space Fund, the UAE Space Agency also unveiled one of the Fund’s first initiatives which is the National Space Academy.

The academy, focused on contributing to the UAE space program, is crafted to cultivate the skills of young Emiratis in space, science and technology, following the most stringent global benchmarks and to bolster national space programs' sustainability.

Sarah Al Amiri, Minister of State for Public Education and Advanced Technology, Chairwoman of the UAE Space Agency, said, “The Dh3 billion National Space Fund was established to support the country’s space sector. It works under the umbrella of the UAE Space Agency towards finding solutions to finance and facilitate the development of space activities and the development of the UAE space sector. Emirati youth are our main force and drive in the comprehensive development renaissance, and they are the future leaders for achieving sustainability in the UAE's space sector."

Al Amiri added, “The academy will offer a unique model in converting theoretical knowledge to practical experiences, to qualify graduates to contribute to the national space sector effectively.”

Five Emirati engineers from TII took part in both the initial and subsequent stages of the space workshops.

Additionally, they will receive support for the third phase, which will facilitate their involvement in the Emirates Mission to the Asteroid Belt (EMA) while being guided by experienced space mission professionals.

Ray O. Johnson, CEO of the Technology Innovation Institute, said, "The space industry is unique and complex. It requires expertise, skills, and strategic cooperation to ensure its sustainability. Hence, we must strengthen cooperation between the academic sector and specialized companies to train young talents and enable them to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to work in this pioneering sector."

Johnson continued, “The Academy will provide an educational, research, and practical environment that enables students to explore and develop new technologies, in addition to accelerating development processes and providing effective and innovative solutions that ensure the sustainability of the field and its continuous development.”

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