Nora Al Matrooshi: The first Arab woman astronaut
In 2017, the UAE launched its National Space Programme to realize the dream of 9.4 million people of the country to reach space. This year in February UAE made history as the Arab world’s first interplanetary expedition, a probe sent by UAE, successfully reached the orbit of Mars. The UAE has already undertaken plans to send a rover to the Moon by 2024. The country even has conceptualized a plan for Mars settlement by 2117. Amidst this, UAE on 10th April declared the name of Nora al Matrooshi to be selected as the first Emirati woman astronaut for the UAE Space Programme.
Nora Al Matrooshi and the space program
Nora al Matrooshi is a 27-year-old Mechanical Engineer graduate from the UAE University. She is currently working in Abu Dhabi’s National Petroleum Construction Company. Nora was amongst the 4,305 odd aspirants and finally outperform to be selected to attend NASA’s 2021 Astronaut Candidate Class in the United States. They all were primarily assessed on scientific abilities, education, and practical experience. Then finally selected on the results of physical, psychological, and medical assessments.
Nora Matrooshi will be joined by another young Emirati national, Mohammed al-Mulla, who was also amongst the 4305 candidates. These two will be part of a team of four chosen to receive training with NASA for future missions to space.
The Arabian dream
For the last couple of years, UAE is rapidly expanding into the space sector to diversify its economy. This Gulf country is using its space program to develop its scientific and technological capabilities and reduce its reliance on oil. In September 2019 the country proudly announced the name of Hazza al-Mansouri, the first Emirati astronaut to travel to the International Space Station. He will also join the rest of the two in this new batch (second batch) of the UAE Astronaut Program. This team will train in manned spaceflight and space research to carry out low-orbit missions at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.