Emirati astronaut to fly long-duration space station mission

WASHINGTON — The United Arab Emirates will fly an astronaut on a long-duration mission to the Worldwide Area Station by an settlement with Axiom Area.

Axiom and the UAE’s Mohammed bin Rashid Area Centre (MBRSC) introduced April 29 they signed an settlement whereby an Emirati astronaut will go to the station on the Crew-6 mission, a SpaceX Crew Dragon flight to the ISS scheduled for launch no sooner than the spring of 2023 for a six-month keep.

Axiom was in a position to make the deal as a result of it had acquired the seat from NASA in change for a Soyuz seat used to move NASA’s Mark Vande Hei to the ISS final yr. Axiom bought the Soyuz seat from Roscosmos, then gave it to NASA in change for a seat on a future industrial crew mission, as an alternative choice to NASA working immediately with Roscosmos.

“Axiom Area is proud to supply MBRSC with a combat alternative for a UAE astronaut, enabling its first long-term mission to the ISS,” Michael Suffredini, president and chief government of Axiom Area, mentioned in an announcement.

The UAE has not disclosed who will fly on that mission. It has an astronaut corps of 4 folks, together with two who’re presently coaching with NASA’s newest class of astronaut candidates. One of many 4, Hazza AlMansoori, turned the primary Emirati in area when he flew on a Soyuz mission in September 2019, spending every week in area.

In an interview final October, Salem AlMarri, on the time the deputy director normal of MBRSC, mentioned the middle was taking a look at numerous choices to fly the nation’s subsequent astronaut. That included each short-duration industrial missions, just like the current Ax-1 flight by Axiom, in addition to partnerships with the US and Russia.

The Emirati astronaut chosen to fly on Crew-6 would be the second individual from the UAE to enter orbit and the primary who just isn’t from an ISS associate — Canada, Europe, Japan, Russia and the US — to stay on the station for an prolonged mission.

That astronaut will be a part of two NASA astronauts, Stephen Bowen and Woody Hoburg, who the company assigned to Crew-6 final December as commander and pilot, respectively. The fourth seat on the mission has not been assigned however would possible go to a Russian cosmonaut if the US and Russia full a seat barter settlement.

The UAE began its astronaut program as a part of a broader initiative to construct up its area presence, an effort that included its Hope spacecraft that has been orbiting Mars since February 2021 and a small lunar rover that can fly on a Japanese industrial lander mission later this yr. Authorities officers mentioned that effort is meant to construct up an area trade within the firm and supply inspiration for youth within the nation and all through the Center East.

“They replicate the imaginative and prescient of the UAE, which positions area exploration as a possibility for enhanced cooperation between international locations and entities in pursuit of the widespread targets of scientific discovery, and a sustainable future for humanity,” Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori, chairman of MBRSC, mentioned in an announcement.

“It will pave the best way for future initiatives that can contribute to strengthening the UAE’s place as a number one nation on the planet of area exploration,” added AlMarri, now director normal of MBRSC, within the assertion.

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