Nora Al Matrooshi

Nora Al Matrooshi completes NASA training programme

The first female astronaut from the United Arab Emirates, mechanical engineer Nora Al Matrooshi will complete her NASA training programme in Houston, Texas, in March 2024.

Along with her colleague Mohammed Al Mulla, she will be eligible to participate in space missions that include flights to the International Space Station and missions planned for the Artemis lunar project.

Training at Johnson Space Centre began in 2021. During that time, the astronauts have completed survival courses, flight training, mastered wearing spacesuits, as well as geology and spacewalk training.

Nora Al Matroushi, 30, has, by her own admission, dreamed of going into space since kindergarten. She now works in the oil and gas sector, but continues to dream of a career as an astronaut.

It is worth recalling that in 2022, the first two UAE astronauts, Hazza Al Mansouri and Sultan Al Neyyadi, completed their training under the NASA programme.

In late January 2024, the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre began work on the historic Lunar Gateway project, which will see the United Arab Emirates build an airlock module for a lunar-orbiting station as part of the Artemis lunar exploration programme being developed by NASA.

The co-operation with NASA will help Emirati astronauts participate in future missions to the moon. The UAE-US agreement currently only covers access to the station, and a separate agreement will be signed for missions on the lunar surface.

The airlock module that MBRSC will develop will allow the crew to perform spacewalks and install and retrieve scientific equipment. The project is scheduled to be completed by 2028.

It will boost efforts to send the first Emirati craft to orbit the Moon. The UAE will also manage and operate the station’s airlock. The airlock is 10 metres long, 4 metres wide and weighs 10 tonnes, while the dimensions of the entire station are: 19 x 20 x 42 metres.

The station will serve as a space laboratory, allowing for a number of scientific and technical experiments, and will have a minimum lifespan of 15 years. Astronauts will use Lunar Gateway for Artemis missions before descending to the lunar surface using landing modules being developed by SpaceX and Blue Origin.

The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre has already held key talks at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston and is beginning work on the Emirates Airlock.

The Artemis programme aims to establish a permanent base on the Moon and facilitate manned missions to Mars. Through this project, the UAE will play a vital role in returning humans to the Moon after a 50-year hiatus.

Source: The National

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