The United Arab Emirates are about to send their first astronaut into space. This is a step into an ambitious, ambitious space program for an oil-rich country the size of Maine on the south side of the Persian Gulf. Next year, a robot spaceship is to be sent to Mars, and its leaders speak of a colonization of the red planet in a century.
Emirati officials hope space will inspire and train a generation of engineers and scientists who can help prepare space for a post-oil future.
When is the start?
Start is 9:57 am Eastern Time. NASA TV will report on the launch at 9am. Three astronauts will be flying from a spaceport in Kazakhstan in a Russian Soyuz capsule, the only spacecraft on earth capable of flying to the International Space Station. The Soyuz will embark on a quick six-hour journey to the space station, and NASA will also cover its scheduled 1
Early on Wednesday, the Russian space agency confirmed the schedule and the astronauts were shown en route to the starting point.
Who is the Emirati Astronaut?
Hazzaa al-Mansoori is a former Emirati F-16 pilot. On board are also Jessica Meir from NASA and Oleg Skripochka from Russia.
"I'll try to remember every second of the start," said Al-Mansoori during a press conference this month. "Because it will really be very important for me to share it with everyone and my country, the whole world and the Arab world."
The station will be crowded with nine inmates for the next eight days before three of them, including Mr. al-Mansoori, return to Earth on October 3.
Why are the United Arab Emirates? Sending an astronaut into space?
During his time in orbit, Mr. al-Mansoori will conduct a series of experiments and conduct a tour of the space station in Arabic.
But his journey will also reveal new opportunities for countries wishing to participate in the space race. The Emirates are not part of the country consortium that participates in the International Space Station. Two years ago, the nation had no astronauts.
In December 2017, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, one of the UAE's seven sheiks, posted on Twitter the nation's plans to launch a manned space program.
The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center acquired a seat on the Soyuz in Dubai from the Russian space agency in Dubai without rockets or its own spaceship. Just as well-to-do space tourists have bought trips to the space station. For this reason, NASA designates Mr. al-Mansoori as "space participant" and not as a professional astronaut.
The prize has not been announced publicly.
Of More Than 4,000 Applicants Who Wanted to Complete The Soyuz Seat, the space center, selected two: Mr. al-Mansoori and his support, Sultan al-Neyadi.
Mr. al-Mansoori, 35, is the father of four children.
The two traveled to Russia to train, including outdoor survival skills in case the returned Soyuz capsule was far off course. Mr. al-Mansoori reported on his astronaut experiences on Twitter, mostly in Arabic, occasionally in English:
Some of the experiments that Mr. al-Mansoori will perform are already waiting for him on the space station. Houston-based NanoRacks, in collaboration with the Space Center Mohammed bin Rashid, has run a competition in which 32 experiments have been selected by students from the Emirates who measured the effect of weightlessness on materials such as sand, steel, corn oil, cement and Egg examined whites.
Other Emirati experiments include a study of oil emulsification in a weightless environment and a second one to germinate a palm tree seed native to the United Arab Emirates.
What other plans do the UAE have space to pursue?
NanoRacks announced last week that it will open an office in Abu Dhabi, the largest emirate.
"You are serious about becoming a space nation," said Jeffrey Manber, general manager of NanoRacks. "To be honest, I also like the fact that they work comfortably with Russia, conveniently with China, and conveniently with the United States and the European Space Agency. I think that's a model for the future. "
Euroconsult, an international consulting firm specializing in space markets, reported that the Emirates spent $ 383 million on space travel last year. That's a lot less than the nearly $ 41 billion that the US or even the $ 1.5 billion India spent, but spent more than Canada.
Virgin Galactic signed in March a Memorandum of Understanding with the United Arab Emirates Space Agency aims to build a spaceport in the country.
Next year, the Emirates intend to launch their Mars mission, a spacecraft called Hope. The probe on a Japanese rocket is said to carry five instruments to study the loss of hydrogen and oxygen gases from the upper parts of the Martian atmosphere.
For Hope, the Emirates collaborates with three American universities: the University of Colorado, Arizona State University, and the University of California, Berkeley.
Who were former astronauts from the Arab world?
Sultan bin Salman Al Saud, a member of the royal family of Saudi Arabia, was the first Arab and Muslim who entered space in 1985 as a member of a NASA space shuttle. Today, he heads the Saudi Space Agency.
Muhammed Ahmed Faris, a Syrian military pilot, flew to the Russian Mir space station in 1987.