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UAE gets its first woman astronaut!3 min read

April 11, 2021 2 min read


UAE gets its first woman astronaut!3 min read

Reading Time: 2 minutes

This brave woman has made history by becoming the first woman astronaut in the United Arab Emirates. Noura Al-Matrooshi is one of two new astronauts in the UAE’s Mohammed Bin Rashid (MBR) Space Centre astronaut programme, announced UAE vice president and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum via Twitter. The two will train with NASA for future space exploration, Sheikh Mohammed said.

“The nation gave me unforgettable moments today. I aim to work hard to script historical moments and achievements that will be etched forever in the memory of our people,” Al-Matrooshi tweeted. “I thank our wise leadership and the team of the UAE Astronaut Programme. Preparations and work begin now.”

Noura al-Matroushi will be accompanied by Mohammed al-Mulla. Both of the chosen astronauts will undergo training at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

Mohammed al-Mulla and Noura Al-Matrooshi. Credit: MBR Space Centre

The astronaut was born in 1993 and holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the United Arab Emirates University, said the MBR Space Centre.

She is an engineer at the National Petroleum Construction Company.

“Her passion in space began at a young age, as she enjoyed going to stargazing events,” the video said. “She lives by the motto of ‘Do what makes you happy.'”

If al-Matroushi ends up going on a mission, she could become the first Arab woman in space, the UAE government said.

UAE in space

Anousheh Raissyan, an Iranian-American telecommunications entrepreneur and millionaire from Dallas, became the first Muslim woman and first Iranian in space when she travelled as a self-funded civilian to the International Space Station in 2006. She reportedly paid $20 million to travel there as a tourist.

The first Muslim in space was Saudi Prince Sultan bin Salman, who joined the crew of the shuttle Discovery in 1985.

In 2019, Maj Hazzaa al-Mansoori became the UAE’s first astronaut in space, spending an eight-day mission aboard the International Space Station.

The Emirates has had other recent successes in its space program. This February, the UAE put its Amal, or Hope, satellite in orbit around Mars, a first for the Arab world!

In 2024, the country hopes to put an unmanned spacecraft on the moon, and has also set the ambitious goal of building a human colony on Mars by 2117.

No ‘space’ for women

While the UAE tries to put great emphasis on gender equality, the space industry across the world has been male-dominated. In fact, the country had a very high global ranking when it comes to women representation in parliament. At MBR Space Centre in Dubai, 42 per cent of the staff are women, and the hope is to keep this number growing.

Source: CNN, Forbes, UAE in Space