UAE's reserve astronaut will go to ISS 'in near future'
UAE Astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi.-Screengrab images from his Instagram page
Baikanor - Plans for sending the next UAE astronaut to the ISS have already been set in motion.
The UAE's reserve astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi will be going on the next space mission for the country, a top UAE space official has said. Hazzaa AlMansoori made history by becoming the first Emirati in space and the first Arab on the International Space Station (ISS). He went onboard the Soyuz MS-15 mission and is set to return to earth on October 3.
Plans for sending the next UAE astronaut to the ISS have already been set in motion, according to the chairman of the UAE Space Agency, Ahmed bin Abdullah Al Falasi.
"We intend to further develop our space programme and we will be sending Sultan Al Neyadi next to the ISS in the near future," local media quoted him as saying. "But our major concern now is the safe return of our astronaut, Hazzaa AlMansoori, who is now on the space station. We shall then send other astronauts into space."
Dmitry Rogozin, director-general of the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, said he expected the UAE's next space flight to be "longer". Seats on the Soyuz MS-16 and MS-17 have already been reserved, but there have been instances in the past of replacements.
Dmitry Loskutov, director-general of Glavkosmos - the international commercial arm of Roscosmos - told Khaleej Times that AlMansoori's mission will create a "cosmic boom" in the UAE's space industry.
"The cooperation between Russia and the UAE in space is progressing, in my opinion, quite intensively. In 2017, we started talks on the potential cooperation in human spaceflights," he said. "I am sure that the flight of the first UAE astronaut will cause a real cosmic boom, primarily in the Emirates, as well as in the Middle East in general. First of all, it means a significantly growing interest in space and related technologies and sciences. A lot of talented young people will come to the space industry to fulfil their ideas and projects. Who knows, maybe among them, there will be the future Arab 'Korolyovs' and 'Barmins', who will help the mankind to make a new boost in space exploration?
"In addition to that, it may well be that the example of Hazzaa AlMansoori will be supported and followed by other countries in the region, which are making today just the first steps in their national space programmes."
Currently, there are only two astronauts in UAE's astronaut corps. However, plans are afoot to expand it.
Salem Al Marri, the head of the UAE Astronaut Programme, had previously told KT that applications will be open to Emiratis once the current mission is complete.
Many UAE nationals are waiting to apply for the programme. In fact, AlMansoori and Al Neyadi were chosen from over 4,000 Emiratis who had applied to become astronauts.
Alia Al Mansoori, a 17-year-old Emirati whose science experiment was sent to the ISS two years ago, had said she would apply to become a UAE astronaut when she turns 18.