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UAE names first female Arab astronaut for Nasa programme

April 11, 2021
technology

HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has announced the names of the two new Emirati astronauts - Nora AlMatrooshi and Mohammed AMulla - who will form a team of four under the UAE Astronaut Programme.

The new batch of the UAE astronauts were selected from more than 4,300 applicants after comprehensive evaluations.

The duo will join the “2021 NASA Astronaut Candidate Class”, as part of a joint strategic agreement between the UAE and the US, to train them at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

They will be trained in human spaceflight, research and space flight control, and will also be trained to carry out missions in low orbit, using the Human Exploration Research Analog, a unique three-story habitat designed to serve as an analog for isolation, confinement, and remote conditions in exploration scenarios.

Under the programme, the astronauts will be trained to manage various missions on the International Space Station, including simulated spacewalks and long duration stay, along with training in major systems, robotics, extravehicular activity, T-38 jet courses, water and land survival, Russian language skills and theoretical training.

The applicants underwent several phases of evaluation and qualification in accordance with international standards. In Phase One, the list was filtered down to 2099 applicants based on their age, educational background, and scientific research experience.

In the first phase, the candidates were selected based on several factors, the most important of which were scientific competencies, educational qualifications and practical experiences.

In subsequent phases, the candidate underwent physical, psychological and medical assessments and tests.

Announcing the names, Sheikh Mohammed said: 'It further enhances the regional and global leadership of the UAE in the space sector, especially after the successful arrival of the Hope Probe, the first Arab interplanetary mission, to Mars.'

'AlMatrooshi and AMulla were selected from more than 4,000 applicants and their training will soon begin for international space flights. We congratulate them and count on them to raise the name of the UAE ever higher in space,' he stated.

Sheikh Mohammed said the steps the UAE has taken in preparing astronauts, who exhibit the highest records in fields such as technology, science and math and sending them to space, is in fact an invitation for the Arab youth to dream big and follow suit, he added.

The UAE today has carved a strong name for itself in the Arab space sector, capitalizing on the impressive achievements so far such as the success of the Hope Probe, the first Arab mission to Mars, he added.

AlMatrooshi, who obtained a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the UAE University in 2015 and has years of experience in the field of engineering.

She excelled in the fields of engineering and mathematics during her academic years, placing first in the UAE for the 2011 International Mathematical Olympiad and representing the UAE in the Youth Conference at the United Nations in the summer of 2018 and winter of 2019.

The other astronaut in the second batch of the UAE Astronaut Programme is Mohammed AlMulla, who at 19 obtained a commercial pilot’s license from the Australian Civil Aviation Authority to become the youngest pilot in Dubai Police.

He then set another record, becoming the youngest trainer in the same organisation at 28 years, after getting his pilot trainer license from GCAA. While pursuing his career he obtained a bachelor’s degree in law and economics in 2015 and an Executive Master of Public Administration from the Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government in 2021.

AlMulla is currently the Head of Training Department of the Air Wing Centre at Dubai Police. He has received the Bravery Medal from Sheikh Mohammed and the Commander in Chief Award for the Best Officer in a Specialised Field, in addition to the Dubai Police Global Excellence Award.

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