MBRSC, Axiom Space Sign Agreement for UAE Astronaut to Fly on the ISS in 2023

Axiom Space; Photo © Axiom Space/WAM WAM04.05.2022 Aviation & Space
MBRSC, Axiom Space Sign Agreement for UAE Astronaut to Fly on the ISS in 2023

MBRSC, Axiom Space Sign Agreement for UAE Astronaut to Fly on the ISS in 2023

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The exciting new era of commercial human spaceflight ushered in over the past three weeks by the successful Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1), the first private mission to the International Space Station (ISS), entered a new phase with the signing of an agreement between Axiom Space and the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC) of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to fly a UAE professional crew member to the ISS on NASA’s SpaceX Crew 6, expected to occur in 2023.

His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, said: “We launched the UAE Astronaut Programme more than five years ago. The UAE sent the first Arab astronaut on a historic trip to the International Space Station... Today we announce a new cooperation between the UAE and the United States of America to send an Emirati astronaut on the first long-term mission aboard the International Space Station.”

“Signing the agreement to send the first Arab astronaut in a long-term mission of 180 days to the International Space Station is new milestone for the UAE space sector. The UAE will be among 11 countries in the world that carried out long-term space missions,” he added.

“Our space sector is constantly evolving. The new mission will add new experiences and knowledge to Emirati astronaut and the scientific community. The UAE will continue its ambitions in the space sector,” His Highness stressed.

“It is our great pleasure to sign the agreement with the United Arab Emirates’ Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center, marking the first time a commercial space company has made such a mission possible,” said Michael Suffredini, President and CEO of Axiom Space.

“Axiom Space is proud to provide MBRSC with a fight opportunity for a UAE astronaut, enabling its first long-term mission to the ISS,” he added.

While the UAE has previously flown an astronaut to the ISS onboard the Soyuz MS15 spacecraft, this will be the first non-ISS partner professional astronaut flight facilitated by a U.S. commercial space company. The mission is expected to last approximately six months, marking the first long-duration flight of an astronaut from an Arab nation. In yet another first, the UAE crew member will serve as a member of two Expedition crews onboard the space station across the roughly six-month interval.

The flight opportunity provided by Axiom has its origins in a no-funds contract signed between NASA and Axiom to fly a NASA astronaut onboard a Soyuz seat, previously purchased by Axiom, in order to ensure continuous U.S. presence onboard the ISS. In exchange, NASA provided Axiom the right to use a seat owned by NASA onboard a commercial U.S. spacecraft traveling to the ISS in the future. Since the seats were deemed of equal value, there will be no future exchange of funds between NASA and Axiom for the flight opportunity. Axiom’s agreement with MBRSC is between the company and the UAE space agency.

The agreement was signed at the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Washington, D.C. on April 27 by Salem Humaid AlMarri, Director-General of MBRSC and Michael Suffredini, and announced by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Axiom Space is guided by the vision of a thriving home in space that benefits every human, everywhere. The leading provider of human spaceflight services and developer of human-rated space infrastructure, Axiom operates end-to-end missions to the International Space Station today while privately building its successor, Axiom Station, the first permanent commercial destination in Earth's orbit that will sustain human growth off the planet and bring untold benefits back home. 



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