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UAE Space Agency signs a deal with NASA on exploration

UAE citizens are used to looking up into the sky. Now, they will look down onto Earth.

The UAE is the latest country to sign a deal with NASA to cooperate on human spaceflight.

The signing comes as the UAE’s space sector enters a new phase of activities, with the UAE Astronaut Program having recently announced the selection of nine candidates who will undergo a period of assessment and training.

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NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted about the joint letter of intent today, which was also signed by Dr. Mohammed Al Ahbabi, the director general of the UAE Space Agency, according to Engadget, a tech news source.

The agreement was signed at the Farnborough International Airshow, according to WAM.

Following the selection of the final team of astronauts, the first Emirati astronaut is scheduled to launch and arrive at the International Space Station in April 2019.

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Speaking at Farnborough, Al Ahbabi said: “This agreement strengthens our ongoing mutual collaboration and contributes to the strategic objectives of the UAE Space Agency. The formation of close partnerships with leading space agencies and organizations around the world continues to contribute to the strengthening of our international standing within the global space sector.

“This agreement is particularly important due to NASA’s wide-reaching expertise in manned space missions. NASA has a record number of successful manned spaceflights that have brought significant contributions to humankind’s development, and our agreement with NASA will enhance our national capabilities in this advanced field.”

While there are no details about what the agreement entails, presumably UAE astronauts will be eligible for spots on NASA’s crewed missions.

However, this new joint letter emphasizes human spaceflight along with other space exploration goals.

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Considering that NASA has a long way to go before it regains the ability to fly its own astronauts, though, thanks to delays from both SpaceX and Boeing, this is all theoretical for right now.

Back in January, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), US agency that provides services to the Government released a report that said that human flight certification of Boeing and SpaceX rockets would likely be delayed until the end of 2019.