The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has signed a historic agreement with NASA to contribute major components to the Lunar Gateway space station, as well as train and fly the first Emirati astronaut as part of the Artemis program to return humans to the Moon.
UAE To Construct Airlock For Lunar Gateway
The centerpiece of the new partnership is an agreement for the UAE to build an airlock for the orbital lunar station Lunar Gateway.
The airlock will enable astronauts to move between the station and exterior sections or visiting spacecraft. It will be designed and developed fully by Emirati engineers in collaboration with Northrop Grumman.
|Approximately 2 meters x 4 meters
|Provide ability for astronauts to exit Lunar Gateway safely into space or visiting vehicles; Enable transfer of science experiments and other payloads between pressurized interior and exterior
Once in orbit around the Moon, the airlock will open opportunities for scientific research and lunar surface exploration from the Lunar Gateway.
First Emirati Astronaut To Join Artemis Crew
As part of the agreement, UAE will also select and train its first astronaut to join a future Artemis crew on the Lunar Gateway or other Artemis missions.
The astronaut will be one of the existing UAE Astronaut Programme candidates Hazza Al Mansoori or Sultan Al Neyadi, who both trained extensively with NASA and the Russian space agency.
The mission will likely take place between 2026-2027 during a roughly 30-90 day crew rotation on Lunar Gateway. The Emirati astronaut will participate in scientific research, support surface missions, and engage students back in the UAE.
Long Term Vision For Sustained Lunar Presence
The deal represents a long term commitment between NASA and UAE towards establishing a sustained human presence on and around the Moon.
UAE’s Minister of State for Advanced Technology, Sarah Al Amiri, said the partnership aligns with the nation’s broader space exploration goals:
“The UAE is committed to sustaining human access to space, to advancing scientific discovery, and promoting collaborations that support humanity’s permanent expansion into space.”
Meanwhile NASA Administrator Bill Nelson praised UAE’s contributions:
“Our shared objective is to expand intercultural understanding through scientific collaboration. This agreement capitalizes on our nations’ unique capacities to foster sustainable innovation.”
Timeline For Lunar Gateway Development
The Lunar Gateway forms the core of NASA’s Artemis program to establish a permanent base on the Moon later this decade.
The modular station will host rotating crews of astronauts in extended stays around the Moon, provide communications relay, and enable regular trips to the surface and back.
|International Habitation Module
While early Artemis missions will involve short visits, NASA ultimately aims to build the Gateway into a full scale research outpost by 2030. Scientists anticipate the microgravity environment and position in space will enable expanded studies across physics, astrophysics, heliophysics, human research, life sciences, and more.
Partnership Continues Tradition Of UAE-NASA Collaboration
The agreement expands an already close relationship between UAE and NASA in space exploration and research.
Past joint projects include the Emirates Mars Mission Hope probe, earth science research, astronaut training programs, and the ongoing collaboration to collect Mars samples for return to Earth.
Officials described the Lunar Gateway deal as opening an exciting new chapter of cooperation in deep space exploration and development.
Outlook: Stepping Stone For Future Deep Space Missions
If development continues successfully, the Lunar Gateway will provide invaluable experience in sustaining humans far from Earth that can enable further exploration.
As the closest staging ground, Gateway missions can test technologies like autonomous operations, advanced propulsion, surface construction techniques, and utilisation of space resources.
These capabilities may later support crewed journeys deeper into space – including Mars, which the UAE has set as its ultimate target for human spaceflight.
Through contributing key Gateway infrastructure, training its first astronaut, and participating directly in Artemis, the UAE cementing itself as a leader in space development and putting Emirati astronauts on the path to Earth’s next great destination.
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