Inspired by her love for all things Star Wars and science fiction, 19-year-old Alia Al Mansoori dreamt of traveling the universe – something she did not think possible until, in 2017, the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC) launched the UAE Astronaut Program. Al Mansoori dedicated herself to studying space biology and designed an experiment measuring the changes in genetic material while in space. Her experiment took first place at the UAE’s inaugural Genes in Space competition, sending her to the United States to work with a team at Harvard University, and ultimately bringing her to Florida’s Kennedy Space Center to watch a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carry her experiment into orbit. History was made when NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson conducted her experiment – the first ever from the UAE – aboard the International Space Station.
Continuing her space journey, Al Mansoori is the youngest person ever to be appointed a research fellow at NYU Abu Dhabi in 2019. And with the announcement of the UAE’s first female astronaut, Al Mansoori is one step closer to her dream of traveling the stars. Hear Al Mansoori recount her special moments in the US.