UAE Astronaut Programme is just the beginning
The UAE and Russia are in discussions for cooperation in long-term experiments on the International Space Station (ISS) in space medicine and biotechnology, a top Russian space official has said.
In an interview with Khaleej Times, Dmitry Loskutov, director-general of Glavkosmos – the daughter company of Russia’s Space Agency Roscosmos – said their joint work with UAE’s Astronaut Programme is just the “beginning of a large-scale cooperation”.
Glavkosmos, the international commercial arm of Roscosmos, has helped draw up and coordinate the approval of the UAE-Russia contract on sending the first Emirati to space, including providing the necessary training involved.
On September 25, former UAE military pilot Hazza Al Mansoori will set history after he jets off to the ISS for an eight-day trip. The 35-year-old is the first Arab to go to the ISS. He will travel onboard Russia’s Soyuz rocket – currently the only spacecraft that can take humans to the ISS. “We hope that our collaboration with the UAE partners will evolve into a long-term and strategic one, especially taking into account the intentions and serious ambitions of the UAE in space exploration. We are ready to discuss building of satellites for various missions, launching of ready-made satellites and deployment of entire satellite constellations, the provision of remote sensing images of Earth which can be used in various areas of the UAE national economy,” Loskutov said.
The UAE is currently in demand by other space agencies and private companies because of its increasing space-related activities. The country has already proven its satellite-development capabilities as it built the first 100 per cent Emirati-made satellite, called KhalifaSat, last year.
The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) paid the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency to launch the remote-sensing satellite into space.
With more Emirati-made satellites in the pipeline, countries with launching capabilities are seeing the UAE as a potential customer. The UAE has already invested more than Dh22 billion in space-related activities.
“Today, Roscosmos, Glavkosmos and specialists from the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre in Dubai are working closely together. Thus further development of cooperation between the two countries in human spaceflights, long-term experiments on the ISS in space medicine and biotechnology are being discussed,” Loskutov said.
“Nowadays, space technologies cease to be the ‘property’ of only one country. Without international integration, both financial and technological, any progress in the conquest of outer space and succeeding in ambitious goals is hardly possible. Russia, as one of the pioneers in space exploration, has tremendous background and experience in the design, production, launching and operation of the full range of existing space systems. Based on these competencies, we are ready to develop joint space projects under which specialists from the UAE will be learning from this experience for the further benefit of the national space industry development.”
In terms of how much the UAE paid Roscosmos to send the first Emirati into space, including the training of both Hazza Al Mansoori and Sultan Al Neyadi, an official from the MBRSC previously told Khaleej Times that they received a “very good deal” due to strong UAE-Russia relations.
It’s been reported that Nasa pays nearly $90 million per seat on Russia’s Soyuz rockets to send their astronauts to the ISS.
MBRSC officials have told KT previously that they are looking towards long-term stays at the ISS after seeing the success of the upcoming launch this September.