The UAE has declared that it will send the first Emirati and Arab astronaut to the moon. The announcement was made during the launch of the UAE’s involvement in the global “Lunar Gateway” project, attended by President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and the Ruler of Dubai.
First Emirati to the Moon
الإمارات تعلن انضمامها إلى مشروع تطوير وإنشاء محطة الفضاء القمرية بجانب الولايات المتحدة واليابان وكندا والاتحاد الأوروبي— UAEGOV (@UAEmediaoffice) January 7, 2024
UAE announces its participation in Nasa’s Lunar Gateway Station alongside the USA, Japan, Canada and the European Union pic.twitter.com/OO8Ovqm1TZ
On Sunday, January 7, 2024, the next major milestone in the UAE’s space exploration was unveiled through the social media accounts of H.H Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President of the UAE, and H.H Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. This announcement marks a significant chapter in the country’s interstellar journey.
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan said during the event, which was held at Qasr Al Watan in Abu Dhabi: “The UAE’s participation in this international project reflects our commitment to promoting partnerships with the world that contribute to the advancement of knowledge and progress for humanity.” It includes the country’s contribution to the Lunar Gateway, “which will serve as humanity’s first space station around the Moon” along with the United States, Canada, Japan, and the European Union.
Under the agreement signed between the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) and Nasa, a UAE astronaut will “fly to the lunar space station on a future Artemis mission”.
Lunar Gateway is a component of the NASA-led Artemis missions to return to the Moon and chart a path for the first human missions to Mars. Through Artemis, Nasa will land the first woman and the first person of colour on the surface of the Moon.
The UAE will be responsible for developing the lunar space station’s Crew and Science Airlock, a critical component for maintaining a safe environment for astronauts. This unit will act as a portal of the station, serving as the entry and exit point for missions and astronauts travelling to the Moon’s surface from the Lunar Gateway Station.
The UAE will also undertake the management and operation of the station’s Airlock. The Airlock’s length is 10 metres, its width is 4 metres, weight 10 tonnes, while the size of the entire station is: 19 x 20 x 42M.
The station will double as a space laboratory, enabling a range of scientific and technical experiments, and will have a minimum lifespan of 15 years, which is subject to extension.
The first elements of Gateway are expected to be launched by 2025, while the Emirates Airlock is scheduled to be launched by 2030.
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