By Gavin Gibbon
Almost a third of applicants have come from Emirati females
Over 4,300 applications have been received by UAE nationals looking to become the next Emirati in space.
The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) has revealed that 4,305 people have applied to follow in the footsteps of Hazza Al Mansoori, the first Emirati astronaut who made history last year when he travelled to the International Space Station.
Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai revealed that 130 PhD candidates had applied, along with 1,400 Emirati women.
The applicants have an average age of 28 years, with the oldest being 60-years-old; 16 percent have a master's degree, while those with a bachelor's degree constituted 48 percent.
Data from the applications also show a variety of specialisations pursued by the applicants, which include engineering, medicine, science and business administration at 25 percent, two percent, 10 percent and 11 percent, respectively.
Additionally, 93 percent of all applicants received their degrees from local universities inside the UAE.
Yousuf Hamad Al Shaibani, director-general, MBRSC, said: "Despite the difficult circumstances the world is currently going through, facing challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, it did not prevent Emiratis in pursuing their ambition to be part of the UAE’s growing space industry. Rather, we saw an increase in the number of registrations for the programme, which once again affirms that the word impossible is nowhere in the lexicon of an Emirati.
A committee of 10 specialists, including astronauts, Hazzaa Al Mansoori and Sultan Al Neyadi, will now shortlist the applicants based on initial interviews and evaluations. The shortlisted candidates will undergo a selection process, which will include personal interviews, physical and mental assessments, and medical examinations. From these shortlisted candidates, two will be selected as the next Emirati astronauts.
The second batch of the UAE Astronaut Programme was open to Emiratis above 18 years of age with a bachelor’s degree. All professions including engineers to pilots, military personnel to teachers, those involved in STEM and other professions, could apply.