Tag Archives: United Arab Emirates

UAE names the two finalists for its first manned flight on Soyuz

The new colonial movement: The leader of Dubai yesterday named the UAE’s the two astronaut finalists, one of which will fly on a Soyuz to ISS sometime next year.

The ruler of Dubai has announced the names of two astronauts from the United Arab Emirates who will be heading to the International Space Station, a first for the Gulf nation. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who also serves as the UAE’s vice president and prime minister, made the announcement on Monday on Twitter.

Sheikh Mohammed named the astronauts as Hazza al-Mansouri and Sultan al-Nayadi. Their missions are scheduled for next year.

No biographical information about these two men has yet been released, but I am willing to bet that some UAE politics played a part in their selection. This is not to say that they are unqualified (because both men were cleared to fly by the Russians) but to note the realities that always lurk within any government run space program.

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Nine finalists for UAE’s astronaut corps of four

The new colonial movement: The United Arab Emirates has reduced its astronaut candidate pool to nine in preparation for choosing the person who will fly on a Russian Soyuz to ISS.

These finalists will now undergo training and assessment by the Russians. The actual flight is presently set for April 2019.

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UAE signs deal with Russia for UAE astronaut flight

The new colonial movement: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Russia signed an agreement this week to fly an UAE astronaut on a Russian Soyuz capsule to ISS in April 2019.

The mission will be a standard 10-day tourist mission, though of course they are not describing it like that. The announcement also does not state if the UAE paid Russia for this flight, but I expect so, just like any tourist flight. The price however was likely a lot less than Russia has been squeezing from the U.S. for its astronaut flights. UAE had also been discussing this with China, and the competition probably forced Russia to lower its price.

I had been hoping that one of the U.S.’s commercial capsules could have gotten this business, but because of the delays NASA has imposed on their initial launches, they haven’t yet flown, so they lost the chance to compete for this.

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UAE astronaut to fly to ISS on Soyuz?

According to a story in the Russian press a tourist on a flight planned for 2019 could be replaced by an astronaut from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The Russians and the UAE have signed a cooperative agreement, so this is possible. It could also be that the UAE has offered more money and thus moved up the queue. It could also be that this is premature. There have been many such stories in the past decade, but the Russians have not flown a tourist to ISS since 2009.

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The UAE receives more than 4000 astronaut applications

The new colonial movement: More that four thousand citizens of the United Arab Emirates have applied to become one of that nation’s first four astronauts.

The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) has received over 4,000 applications (aged between 17 and 67) from Emiratis aspiring to join the UAE Astronaut Programme, which was launched in December 2017 and was open for registrations for three months until March 2018. Funded by ICT Fund of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), the programme saw females constitute 34% of applicants.

Qualified candidates will be chosen by a selection committee, following which they will need to pass a basic medical and psychometric test, an initial interview, an advanced medical and psychometric test and a panel interview. The top four candidates who will form the UAE Astronauts Team by the end of 2018 will then undergo a series of training programmes divided into year-long basic training modules and advanced training modules, which will be conducted over three years.

Three years from now the UAE should have have several different manned spaceship options to fly these astronauts on, from government manned capsules from Russia or China or private capsules like SpaceX’s Dragon or Boeing’s Starliner.

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A detailed look at the UAE’s national space policy

Link here. The overall goals appear smart and worthwhile. They suffer from only one problem: This is a top-down policy, with the government attempting to drag the society forward in a specific direction. The direction might be a good one, but generally such efforts have limited success.

This paragraph meanwhile reveals the influence U.S. policy is having:

Effective and Attractive Space Regulatory Environment – The third enabler recognizes the need to incorporate and develop domestic space laws and regulations. These laws and regulations will be required to increase transparency, effectiveness, and resilience, and also provide protection of intellectual property rights as well as provide insurance policies and facilities for various private space activities. The legal and regulatory environment created through the third enabler will simplify the sharing of appropriate data and information to support value-added industries. The environment envisioned by the third enabler will strive to require the minimum regulatory burden on commercial space activities to enable the UAE to comply with its domestic and international legal obligations. That another country like the UAE might offer a more effective and attractive foreign legal and regulatory environment has been used to great effect in lobbying efforts in the United States and has prompted the both the House and Senate to reevaluate the U.S. commercial space licensing scheme. [emphasis mine]

I have highlighted the key phrases. The first illustrates the recognition that less government regulation is best, a variation of the basic American idea of freedom. The second notes the importance of competition. Just as Congress is rewriting its space laws to make it easier for U.S. citizens and companies to compete in space, the UAE recognizes that it must do the same.

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UAE and Algeria sign space accord

The space agencies of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Algeria have signed an agreement to enhance their collaboration in space.

The MoU defines a framework for collaboration in the peaceful use of space, in line with the UAE Space Agency’s strategic plans to enhance collaboration with international stakeholders in the sector. The MoU covers various aspects of the peaceful use of outer space, as well as collaboration in the fields of policy-making, regulations, space science, technology, and human capital development in the space sector.

I didn’t even know Algeria had a space agency.

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UAE sheikh okays next phase in Mars mission

The competition heats up: The Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has approved the start of construction of the prototypes for the UAE’s Mars Mission, dubbed Hope.

Sheikh Mohammed gave the greenlight to start manufacturing the probe’s prototypes, the Arab world’s first Mars probe. The project places the UAE with the nine countries that aim to explore Mars. His Highness said: “UAE ambitions is to explore the outer space. We are investing in our national cadres to lead this project and contribute in expanding our knowledge about Mars. Hope Probe is a qualitative leap for UAE’s scientific efforts, it the first contribution for the Arab world in this regard”.

Sheikh Mohammed’s remarks came while visiting the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) to open the second phase of the UAE satellite manufacturing and assembly complex, a multitasking facility capable of handling several space projects at a time.

It will be very interesting to see how this top-down mission proceeds, as it is being pushed heavily by the sheikh in a country with almost no experience in building such things.

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UAE adopts a national space policy

The competition heats up: The cabinet of the United Arab Emirates has adopted a national space policy for the Arab nation.

This push by the UAE to become a major player in space is being entirely led by, to quote the story at the link, the “Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.” His effort is a good thing, but in many ways a hollow gesture. The UAE does not yet have the people or the infrastructure for its own space program. What they have is a lot of oil money, which will allow them to buy those skills from others. This is what they are doing for their Mars probe that they hope to launch in 2020.

Whether the skills will then remain within the UAE remains questionable.

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