Abu Dhabi: The United Arab Emirates will send the first Emirati and Arab astronaut to lunar orbit, as part of a new space project announced on Sunday.
The United Arab Emirates confirmed its participation in NASA’s Lunar Gateway station along with the United States, Japan, Canada and the European Union. Lunar Gateway will serve as humanity’s first space station around the Moon.
The 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 Ruler of Dubai, attended the launch of the UAE’s contributions to the historic Lunar Portal.
On his official X account, President Sheikh Mohamed said: “I had the pleasure of attending with my brother Mohammed bin Rashid the launch of the UAE’s contributions to the historic Lunar Gateway, which will serve as humanity’s first space station around the Moon.”
“Through our long-term investment in space exploration and scientific innovation, the UAE is determined to work together with its international partners to enable collective progress for all,” Sheikh Mohamed tweeted.
Meanwhile, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid said that as part of the nation’s contribution, the UAE will develop a complete 10-tonne unit for the station.
Additionally, the United Arab Emirates will establish a space operations center within our country, along with a global center for astronaut training.
On his official X account, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid said: “In the United Arab Emirates we begin the new year with notable projects. Today I joined the President of the United Arab Emirates to announce our participation in a global scientific effort to build a lunar space station, in collaboration with the United States, Canada, Japan and the European Union.
“The lunar space station signifies humanity’s return to the Moon and serves as a vital platform for launching missions to Mars,” Sheikh Mohammed added.
He noted that work on this project will begin immediately, aligning with one of the most important space ambitions of the next decade.
“We are proud of our projects, our qualified workforce and the aspirations of our youth. Full of optimism, we look forward to a new year that promises to be the most beautiful and greatest yet for the UAE,” His Highness stated.
Its primary functions include acting as a solar-powered communications center, facilitating scientific research, housing astronauts from government agencies on short-term missions, and serving as a storage facility for rovers and robotic missions.
Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, congratulated the leadership, people and the Arab world of the UAE as the UAE joins the development of the Lunar Space Station Gateway, together with the USA, Japan, Canada and the European Union.
“This project stands out as one of the most important international efforts in space exploration of the 21st century. As an integral part of this project, the first Emirati and Arab astronaut will travel to the Moon upon completion of the project in 2030,” Sheikh Hamdan said.
“My team at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC) will be responsible for designing, developing and operating the Emirates Airlock, which is the access point between the pressurized cabin of the Lunar Gateway Space Station and the vacuum of space.”
“Through this project, the UAE will play a vital role in returning humans to the Moon after a gap of more than 50 years. “The Gateway will serve as a launch pad for spacewalk missions around the Moon and future missions to Mars, embodying the spirit of Sheikh Zayed’s ambition and the limitless aspirations of our nation that knows that the impossible is possible,” added the Prince. Dubai heir.
Additionally, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said: “Today we announced that the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center in the United Arab Emirates will provide the crew and science airlock for NASA Gateway, humanity’s first space station to orbit the Moon. . “This is an exciting time for international collaboration in the cosmos and the future of human space exploration.”
This ambitious effort represents a multinational collaborative effort involving four leading International Space Station partner agencies: NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). ).
Lunar Gateway, also known as Gateway, is the first extraterrestrial space station, strategically located in lunar orbit.
The nation’s contribution in the development of the Crew and Science Airlock module at the Lunar Gateway Station aims to strengthen its global presence in the fields of space science and technology.
The UAE is the fifth partner in this project, which will be among the most important global achievements of the 21st century and represents a historic achievement among the UAE’s achievements in the space sector.
This contribution is produced in cooperation with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The project represents humanity’s renewed ambition to revisit the Moon after an absence of more than fifty years. This initiative involves landing on the surface of the Moon in preparation for upcoming missions to Mars.
The UAE will be responsible for the development of the lunar space station’s scientific and crew airlock, a critical component in maintaining a safe environment for astronauts. This unit will act as the station’s portal, serving as an entry and exit point for missions and astronauts traveling to the surface of the Moon from the Lunar Gateway Station.
The UAE will also be responsible for the management and operation of the station’s airlock. The length of the airlock is 10 meters, its width is 4 meters, it weighs 10 tons, while the size of the entire station is: 19 x 20 x 42 m.
The station will also function as a space laboratory, which will allow a series of scientific and technical experiments to be carried out, and will have a minimum useful life of 15 years, which is subject to extension.
The first elements of the Gateway are expected to be launched in 2025, while the Emirates Airlock is planned for launch in 2030.
Phases of the Airlock project
Airlock’s development stages will include five main stages: the planning stage; the design phase; the qualification process; flight preparation; and the operations stage.
The planning stage involves establishing project objectives, strategies and partners for the creation of the Airlock module, while the second stage will include the development of detailed designs and specifications of the Airlock unit components for assembly.
The qualification process stage is characterized by testing and qualifying the Airlock unit components to ensure their reliability and safety for space conditions and requirements. The fourth phase of Airlock development will include preparations and launch of the space components and their integration into the Lunar Gateway Station.
The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC) will be responsible for managing, maintaining and operating the airlock, ensuring it functions effectively as part of the Portal.
What is Artemis?
NASA’s critical mission, “Artemis,” focuses on returning humans to the Moon and establishing long-term sustainable lunar missions. The Artemis missions are expected to provide invaluable information about lunar resources, technologies and how to live and work on another celestial body, significantly improving our understanding of the Moon, Mars and the expanses of the universe.
The Lunar Gateway Station is a key component of this effort, as it is humanity’s first space station in orbit around the Moon. This station, built in collaboration with commercial and international partners, will provide essential functions to support astronaut health and mission objectives.
The Gateway will allow long-term astronaut stays, improve communication with the lunar surface and facilitate studies on solar and cosmic radiation, as part of the vision of the lunar exploration program and future missions to Mars.
Important contribution from the UAE
The UAE’s participation in Gateway marks a momentous development in international space collaboration. This will elevate the nation as a critical leader in the global space community of the future.
The United Arab Emirates will occupy a permanent seat and contribute scientifically to the largest lunar and space exploration program. It will be among the first countries to send an astronaut to the Moon, with priority access to advanced scientific and engineering data collected by the station, enhancing its journey of knowledge.
Gateway supports sustained deep space exploration and research, including docking ports for a variety of visiting spacecraft; space for the crew to live, work and prepare for missions to the lunar surface lasting up to 90 days; and scientific research on board to study heliophysics, human health and life sciences, among other areas.
Hamad Obaid AlMansoori, President of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC), said: “Our participation in this project marks a new chapter in the UAE’s space exploration journey. Guided by the ambition of our leadership, we are entering a new era in space exploration. “His wise vision has been a driving force behind our participation in the development of NASA’s Lunar Gateway Station, a global milestone that showcases the UAE’s commitment and expanding capabilities.”
Salem Humaid Al Marri, Director General of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre, said: “We are grateful for the unwavering commitment and ambitious vision of our wise leadership, which has transformed space into a field of innovation and scientific progress. The UAE’s contribution to this project is not only a national triumph but a global achievement. It shows our ability to actively contribute to space exploration. “This project emphasizes the importance of international cooperation in this field and reflects our enthusiasm to participate in the restoration of human presence on the Moon and advance space missions to Mars.”