The United Arab Emirates has sent its first astronaut into space. This is a step in a new, ambitious, oil-rich space program the size of Maine south of the Persian Gulf. Next year, he plans to send a robotic spacecraft to Mars, with his leaders talking about colonizing the red planet a century later.
Emirates authorities hope the space will inspire and train a generation of engineers and scientists who can help prepare the country for the future after oil.
Hazzaa al-Mansoori A former Emirati F-16 pilot, launched for the International Space Station in a Soyuz capsule from a Russian space port in Kazakhstan on Wednesday. Also on board were Jessica Meir of NASA and Oleg Fiddler of Russia. After a quick, six-hour journey, the spacecraft docks at the station at 3:42 pm Eastern Time.
Hours before the launch, Mr. Al Mansori also tweeted about his
] The station will be crowded over the next eight days with nine occupants, before three of them, including Mr. Al Mansori, return to Earth on October 3.
Why did the UAE send an astronaut to space?
During his orbit, Mr. Al Mansori is to assist in conducting a series of experiments and touring the space station in Arabic.
But his journey will also highlight new opportunities for countries wishing to enter the space race. Emirates is not part of a consortium of countries participating in the International Space Station. Two years ago, the nation also had no astronauts.
In December 2017, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, who is one of the seven sheikhs making up the UAE, posted on the nation's Twitter plans to launch a human space flight program.
Without missiles or its own spacecraft, Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center in Dubai purchased a Union space from a Russian space agency in the same way that wealthy space tourists also purchased trips to the space station. Therefore, NASA refers to Mr. Al Mansouri as a "space flight participant" and not as a professional astronaut.
The price has not been disclosed publicly.
Of the more than 4,000 candidates seeking to fill Union headquarters, the Space Center selected two: Mr. Al Mansori and his reserve, Sultan al-Nayadi.
Mr. Al-Mansori, 35, is a father of four years.
The two head to Russia for training, including outdoor survival skills, in case the Soyuz return capsule lands far off course. Mr. Al Mansori posted on Twitter his experiences with astronauts, especially in Arabic, sometimes in English:
Some of the experiments that Mr. Al Mansori will conduct are already waiting for him in the space station. NanoRacks, a Houston-based company, has partnered with Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center in a competition that selected 32 experiments from students in the Emirates studying the effects of weightlessness on materials of such as sand, steel, corn oil, cement and eggs are white.
Additional experiments with Emirati include one oil-based emulsification study in a weightless environment, as well as a second seed germination of a palm tree in the country.
What other plans does the UAE make?
NanoRacks announced last week that it would open an office in Abu Dhabi, the largest emirate.
"They are seriously striving to become a space state," says Jeffrey Manber, CEO of NanoRacks. "I also like the fact that they are comfortable working with Russia, they are comfortable working with China and are comfortable working with the US and the European Space Agency. I think this is a model for the future. "
Euroconsult, an international space consultancy firm, announced that last year the Emirates spent $ 383 million on space. This is far less than the nearly $ 41 billion spent by the United States or even $ 1.5 billion from India, but more than that spent by Canada.
Virgin Galactic signed a memorandum of understanding in March for the United Arab Emirates space agency, which aims
The following year, the Emirates intends to launch its mission on Mars, a spaceship called Hope. The probe on top of a Japanese rocket should carry five instruments that should investigate the loss of hydrogen and oxygen gases from the upper Martian atmosphere.
For Hope, the Emirates works with three US universities: the University of Colorado, Arizona State University and the University of California, Berkeley.
Who were previously astronauts from the Arab world?
Sultan bin Salman Al Saud, a member of the Saudi Arabian royal family, was the first Arab and Muslim to go into space as a member of NASA's Space Shuttle Mission in 1985. He now heads the Saudi Space Agency.
Mohammed Ahmed Faris, Syrian military pilot, flew to Russian space station Mir in 1987