Team at MBR working on Rashid Rover

UAE Space Exploration

Through close collaboration with US partners, the United Arab Emirates is inspiring a new generation of space explorers and scientists.

The imminent future entails two missions for the UAE: a lunar mission and Sultan Al Neyadi's six-month mission aboard the ISS. 

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Named after the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the Rashid Rover is expected to launch, aboard a Falcon 9 SpaceX Rocket, in early November 2022 from NASA's primary launch center, Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Rashid Rover will be placed on the lunar surface in an area called Lacus Somniorum, latin for Lake of Dreams, by a Japanese ispace lander.

If successful, this mission will add the UAE and Japan to the short list of nations – US, Russia, and China – that placed spacecraft on the moon.

emirati astronauts hazzaa almansoori and sultan alneyadi prepare for space

On track for early 2023, UAE astronaut Dr. Sultan Al Neyadi will be part of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-6 Mission to the International Space Station (ISS). His mission will mark the UAE’s second mission to the ISS, as Al Neyadi served as backup astronaut for Hazza Al Mansouri’s mission to the ISS in 2019.

In February 2021, the UAE became the first Arab nation and fifth country to reach Mars, coinciding with the year of the UAE’s 50th anniversary. After traveling 306 million miles in seven months, the UAE’s Hope Probe now orbits the Red Planet. Using three cutting-edge scientific instruments, Hope is collecting and transmitting data about the planet’s atmosphere back to Earth, helping scientists create the first complete depiction of the Martian atmosphere.

“Hope” or “Al Amal” in Arabic – represents the culmination of an innovative knowledge transfer and development program between the UAE and international partners. Emirati engineers worked closely with scientists at US educational institutions such as University of Colorado Boulder, University of California, Berkeley and Arizona State University.

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For the less imminent future, the UAE sets its sights on the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, the source of most meteorites that impact Earth. The new interplanetary mission was announced as part of the UAE’s “Projects of the 50”—a series of innovative projects to accelerate the UAE into its next 50 years—and will be developed in partnership with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) at CU Boulder.

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The team driving the UAE’s space program represents a new generation of Emirati engineers that is predominantly female. 50% of the employees at the UAE Space Agency are women. This includes HE Sarah Al Amiri, UAE Minister of State for Advanced Technology and Heyam Al Blooshi, a UAE Space Agency engineer, who worked on the Hope Probe. Learn more here.

UAE astronaut Hazza Al Mansouri with Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka and American astronaut Jessica Meir

The UAE’s astronaut program continues to develop following the historic mission of Hazza Al Mansouri to the International Space Station in September 2019. Aboard the ISS, he conducted various experiments on behalf of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, hosted a traditional Emirati dinner for his crewmates and gave a broadcasted tour of the station for viewers back home. Under an agreement between the UAE and NASA signed in 2020, Hazza, Dr. Sultan Al Neyadi and other UAE astronauts will train for future space exploration missions at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Two Emirati candidates, Mohammed Al Mulla and Nora Al Matrooshi, have begun their training alongside aspiring American astronauts. Chosen from over 4,000 applicants, Nora Al Matrooshi will be the first female Arab astronaut.

In October 2020, the UAE Space Agency joined NASA and other space agencies in signing the Artemis Accords, which aim to further collaboration on lunar exploration.