The UAE has a number of firsts to its name but one of the coolest is it’s home to the first female Arab astronaut, Nora Al Matrooshi.
And Nora made the grade to become one of the UAE’s new Astronauts when she beat 4,305 other Emiratis including 1,400 female applicants.
To date, only 65 women have gone into space. And now Nora is part of the UAE’s space program, she’s looking to change that.
“I first started dreaming of becoming an astronaut when my teacher in kindergarten asked us to build a tent and pretend it was a spacecraft that was taking us to the Moon. Since then I’ve become extremely passionate about becoming an astronaut,” she said.
The other space newcomer is 33-year-old Mohammed Al Mulla. And they’re now both members of the UAE space program alongside Hazza Al Mansouri, the first Emirati in space, and Sultan Al Neyadi.
And Nora is swapping the soil for the stars.
“I’ve been working in the oil and gas field for several years, but my dream about becoming an astronaut never went away. This is a life-changing opportunity.
“The dream I’ve had since a child has come true. Now, I’ve started dreaming bigger.”
In space this decade
One of the first lessons Nora will need to learn is patience. She’ll need to complete her 30-month training before she’s considered for space missions. But, according to UAE astronaut programme chief Salem Al Marri, she could fly ‘within this decade.’
“If we get an earlier flight, which would be in the coming years, we would select from the candidates we have available, which would be Hazza and Sultan. If that flight is later, then we’ll have four candidates.”