Look: UAE’s next astronauts learn space survival skills at Nasa

Mohammed Al Mulla and Noura Al Matrooshi will graduate from the Nasa Astronaut Programme in early 2024


Nasreen Abdulla

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Photos: Twitter
Photos: Twitter

Published: Fri 16 Jun 2023, 6:32 PM

Last updated: Fri 16 Jun 2023, 11:11 PM

Even as astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi is continuing his historic space mission at the International Space Station (ISS), his counterparts have continued training hard here on earth.

As part of Nasa's 2021 astronaut candidate class training programme, Emirati astronauts Nora Al Matrooshi and Mohammad Al Mulla recently completed a series of rigorous training exercises in the USA.

A video showing highlights of their training regimen was shared by Nasa, documenting the duo's resilience as they undertook various challenges, from survival training at Alabama's Fort Novosel to mastering the art of suiting up at Nasa’s Johnson Space Centre's Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory.

The training program also included getting acquainted with the field of geology, and others.

The Emirati astronauts had also recently visited the Marshall Space Flight Centre. During the visit, they had the opportunity to meet with the Centre’s leadership and learn more about the missions, programs, and projects at Marshall. They also went to the V20 Thermal Vacuum Chamber, which is currently being used to simulate lunar environments and plume surface interaction for landing scenario planning for the Moon.

Al Matrooshi and Al Mulla, who are part of the second batch of the UAE Astronaut Programme, were selected in the 2021 class of astronaut candidates alongside 10 of their NASA classmates who make up the US space agency's 23rd group of astronaut candidates since the Mercury 7 were chosen in 1959. The 10 candidates were carefully selected from a pool of over 12,000 applicants from across the USA for the Nasa astronaut corps and are currently undergoing candidacy program training at Nasa’s Johnson Space Centre in Houston. They are set to graduate in early 2024 as flight-eligible astronauts.

Once they graduate, the Group 23 members will become eligible for a variety of assignments, including performing research on the ISS, launching on commercial spacecraft to commercial outposts in low Earth orbit and embarking on missions into deep space.

A flying enthusiast, Mohammed became the youngest pilot in Dubai Police after obtaining a commercial pilot’s license at the age of 19. He also became the youngest trainer at the organization after getting his flight instructor license at 28 years.

Noura is a mechanical engineer who worked as a piping engineer at the UAE's National Petroleum Construction Company. In 2022, she made it to Forbes list of 5 Arab women who made history by becoming the Arab world's first female astronaut.

The UAE Astronaut Programme is one of the projects managed by MBRSC under the UAE’s National Space Programme and funded by the ICT Fund of the Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA), which aims to support research and development in the ICT sector in the UAE and promote the country’s integration on the global stage.


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