The UAE has announced it is forming its own astronaut corps in time for the 50th anniversary of the nation’s founding in 2021.
In a panel discussion at the 68th International Astronautical Congress (IAC) here Sept. 28, officials with the country’s new space agency said that the country sought to develop a “sustainable” human spaceflight program with scientific applications, rather than simply the prestige of flying humans in space.
“This is an initiative from the UAE government to have a sustainable human spaceflight program,” said Salem Humaid Al Marri, assistant director general at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre. “When we talk about sustainable, that means that we are not looking at launching an astronaut for a week or launching a tourist flight, but we’re looking at a program that is based on science.”
Al Marri said later that the government will formally request applications from astronauts by the end of this year or the first quarter of 2018. He didn’t disclose what criteria the space agency had developed for its astronaut program.
That will be followed by a selection process that he estimated will last from six to ten months before choosing between four and six astronauts. “Probably towards the lower end,” he said of that range of four to six, “because obviously all of the astronauts that we train we would also look to fly them at some point.”
Officials have not announced with vehicles UAE astronauts would fly on.
ABU DHABI, UAE — The United States and United Arab Emirates (UAE) have entered into an agreement to cooperate in aeronautics research, and the exploration and use of airspace and outer space for peaceful purposes, working together in the peaceful use of outer space for the benefit of humanity.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and UAE Space Agency Chairman Dr. Khalifa Al Romaithi formalized and signed the agreement Sunday at a meeting in Abu Dhabi.
Conferences are great places to announce business deals. Satellite 2015 in Washington, D.C., was no exception for Arianspace. The European company announced the following launch deals this week:
a block of high resolution imaging satellites for Skybox Imaging aboard a Vega launch vehicle in 2016;
one Airbus EDRS-C satellite as part of the SpaceDataHighway system aboard an Ariane 5 booster in the first quarter in 2017; and,
two Airbus Falcon Eye satellites into low Earth orbit (LEO), using two Vega (or Soyuz) launchers in 2018 and 2019.
“We are extremely proud to play a part in deploying Skybox’s satellite imaging constellation.” said Arianespace CEO Stéphane Israël. “The Vega launch system has already achieved four flawless flights for commercial and government customers. This new contract with Skybox marks our first U.S. customer of the Vega and adds to Vega’s order book of nine small satellites to be launched in the coming three years.”
Space Expedition Corporation (SXC) has teamed up with Alchemy Tourism in Dubai to market XCOR Lynx tickets in the United Arab Emirates. Officials from the Dutch company were in Dubai earlier this week to keep off the effort, which seeks to tap into a wealthy nation where rival Virgin Galactic has raised the bulk of the funds for its SpaceShipTwo vehicle.
You can read about SXC’s expansion into UAE in stories on the Gulf News and Emirates 24/7 websites. Neither piece contains anything really new, although they do include a handful of strange errors:
SXC has apparently worked for 13 years “in association with” XCOR to develop the Lynx. (In reality, XCOR has been in existence 14 years, while SXC was created a couple of years ago to market and operate the Lynx.)
XCOR has been renamed “Excor.”
Mojave is now “Mohavy.”
Strangely enough, both writers spelled Curacao correctly. I did not see that one coming.
KAZKOSMOS PR — In the period from Nov. 11 to 17, a Kazkosmos delegation headed by Chairman Talgat Musabayev is participating in the “Dubai Air Show 2011” being held in Dubai (United Arab Emirates). As part of “Dubai Air Show 2011”, the Kazkosmos delegation plans to meet with representatives of the Institute for Advanced Science and Technology of the United Arab Emirates to discuss cooperation in space activities. At the meeting, there is the planned signing of an agreement between the National Space Agency of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Institute for Advanced Science and Technology of the United Arab Emirates on cooperation in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes.
From 17 to 20 November this year, the Kazkosmos delegation plans to visit Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) to sign an agreement between the National Space Agency of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Scientific and Technical town named after King Abdul Aziz (KACST) of Saudi Arabia to establish cooperation in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes. The agreement will be signed on Nov. 19.
NASA PR — Whether or not you remember the winter of 2011 as unusually cold or snowy, an adventurous team of experts will remember its intense heat, as they searched for microbial life between sand dunes in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). They were searching for simple life forms that also may exist on other planets.
The United States team consisted of teachers Mike Wing and Lucinda Land, NASA space scientists Chris McKay and Jon Rask, and education specialist Matthew Reyes. Together, they embarked on a high adventure desert expedition from Feb. 18 – Mar. 4 with UAE students and teachers as part of a NASA education program, called Spaceward Bound. Developed at NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., Spaceward Bound’s mission is to train the next generation of space explorers. Led by the U.S. team, local students and teachers from the Emirates were given real planetary research experience using remote, extreme environments in the UAE deserts as analogs for Mars and Saturn’s moon, Titan.
While Europe lurches from sovereign debt crisis to debt crisis, the United States struggles with a ballooning budget deficit, and investors worldwide pull back on spending, there is one area of the world that still has a mountain of funds to spend. It’s a reality could have a major effect on the path of the nascent commercial spaceflight industry in the years ahead.
Some interesting remarks from Surrey Satellite Technology Chairman Martin Sweeting, who is set to address delegates at the Global Space and Satellite Forum (GSSF) 2011 in Abu Dhabi in May:
“The Middle East region has already demonstrated a keen interest in space-based technologies and I am therefore delighted to be given the opportunity to address the delegates at this year’s GSSF. Small satellites are at the forefront of space innovation, and I believe that there are great opportunities for the region to benefit from the high-tech commercial opportunities in this growing space sector.”
While speaking to the ‘Engineer’ last November, Sir Martin made a prediction which are precisely what you would expect from a visionary. He looks forward to manned space exploration returning within the next ten years after the discovery of significant amounts of water on the Moon and, never one to miss a business opportunity, Sweeting plans to surround the Moon with small satellites to give astronauts internet and communication capabilities.
The seven-state United Arab Emirates is quickly becoming the center of the Middle East’s space effort, with agreements with Virgin Galactic for a suborbital spaceport and Bigelow Aerospace to develop an orbital spaceflight program. In the process, it is riding the crest of a new commercial wave in how human spaceflight will be conducted.
The Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology (EIAST) and Bigelow Aerospace LLC, an organisation dedicated to providing affordable options for spaceflight to national space agencies and corporate clients, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to drive joint efforts to usher in a new era in human spaceflight based on innovative technologies, affordability, commercial sustainability, and strong international partnerships.
As per the MoU, EIAST and Bigelow Aerospace will explore joint efforts to establish a next-generation commercial human spaceflight programme for Dubai and the UAE, leveraging recent advances in human spaceflight. They will work to create a world-class microgravity research and development programme with a potential focus on advanced biotechnology applications, and a variety of other commercial space-related activities.
NASA’s outreach to predominantly Muslim country produced a political firestorm over the summer that, for some indiscernible reason, focused very little on the specifics of what the space agency is actually doing in that area. The National, an English language publication based in Abu Dhabi, has an update on one of the programs:
On June 1, Shamma al Qassim boarded a plane bound for the US as the first Emirati woman to become a Nasa intern. On Sunday, Reem Ketait will become the second.
Ms al Qassim, 19, along with two other Emirati students â€“ Hazza Bani Malek, 20, and Hamad Rajab, 21 â€“ spent 10 weeks training alongside Nasa engineers as part of the Educational Associates programme.
A couple of items about the United Arab Emirates and its efforts to build up a space program.
Speaking at a conference, Saudi Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud – who became the first Arab in orbit aboard the space shuttle in 1985 – praised UAE’s efforts to train its own space scientists and engineers.
Middle East supplement: UAE ready to enter the space age Flight International
Spaceflight could be the next frontier for the United Arab Emirates’ burgeoning aerospace and aviation sector. The country is already building the world’s biggest airport. Now it could be home to one of the first spaceports from which suborbital trips will be launched early next decade.