The UAE has declared it will send an astronaut to the ISS (International Space Station) in the next year. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid—Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Emirate Dubai—tweeted with the first announcement, with further information revealed through Roscosmos, Russian space agency.
Simultaneously, Roscosmos confirmed it had signed a preliminary contract with the MBRSC (Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre) to send a UAE astronaut for a 10-Day duty to the ISS in April 2019, on board a Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft. The concluding agreement for the UAE’s first crewed space mission is planned to be made soon. Till June, 234 people from 18 countries have toured the space station as per to NASA, so far nobody from a Middle Eastern nation. Earlier in this month, it was disclosed that the UAE Astronaut Program has selected 95 budding astronauts from more than 4,000 applicants. Out of the shortlisted 75 are men and 20 are women. The additional testing will wrap up with the selection of 4 top contenders and 2 reserves, including the first UAE Astronaut Corps. Reportedly, these candidates will have to study Russian language and skills in navigation, robotics, and medical aid. Roscosmos stated it would aid in selecting and grooming the Emirati astronaut for its first flight.
In recent times, Roscosmos was in news for claiming it is a victim of dirty politics in Russian and foreign media. Vladimir Ustimenko—a spokesman for the Roscosmos—told to TASS “For making unbiased denouements about the information campaign against our space agency it is enough to conduct a brief monitoring of foreign press with us in the past few months.” According to him, vigorous changes are happening in the space sector started by the new leadership in the Roscosmos.