“Space will make you a better citizen” - Former NASA astronaut's address to Emirati students at the Mohamed Bin Zayed Majlis for Future Generations
Eyes on the skies at the Majlis for Future Generations as budding astronauts meet with NASA, The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, and Yahsat
Dubai, UAE, October 10, 2018: The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) has been fuelling the UAE’s journey to the stars since its inception, and has recently made significant strides in achieving the country’s goal of becoming a leading spacefaring nation. This year, two Emiratis were chosen to be the first in space, with the aim of flying to the International Space Station in April 2019. The UAE has committed to further develop their locally-grown capacities as well, with the Hope probe set to arrive on Mars in 2021 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the founding of the UAE.
At the Mohammed Bin Zayed Majlis for Future Generations, MBRSC along with a host of space race stakeholders inspired Emirati youth to be involved in the UAE’s space race, emphasizing that they do not need to be an astronaut, an engineer, or even in a science field to contribute. The mission to space involves everyone, they said, and is a shared aspiration to benefit humanity in its entirety.
NASA’s Captain Michael López-Alegría was on hand at Mohammed Bin Zayed Majlis for Future Generations to share his first-hand experience of a career in microgravity, and reflect on the importance of international cooperation. “When you fly into space it changes you,” he said during his address. “The continents look the same but there are no borders. We don’t see war, conflict or poverty. It makes us want to make that view a reality. We see the thin atmosphere around the earth and we want to protect it.” His message to students - “It isn’t that anyone can be an astronaut. My message is that anyone can be anything you want to be.”
Omran Sharaf, Director of the Emirates Mars Mission at MBRSC explained to students the unique contribution that the UAE will have to space exploration. “The Emirates Mars Mission will be addressing questions that have not yet been answered. This will be the first time that the international community will be able to get a holistic view of the atmosphere of Mars at different times. The data that we create during the mission will be open to the world,” he explained. However, space knowledge exchange is not one sided, he said. “We aren’t starting from zero,” he said. “We are learning from others and building on existing knowledge. We need to work efficiently and partner with other entities to grow our knowledge.”
The UAE’s spacefaring aspirations are ambitious, and will take involvement from across sectors. For those unwilling to leave the earth to be involved in the country’s journey to space, there are plenty of options right here on the ground, said Abdullah Essa Sharif, an engineer from the satellite company Yahsat during a breakout session with university students at Mohammed Bin Zayed Majlis for Future Generations. “There are many roles that will need to be filled,” he explained. “If you are interested in law, for example, Space Law is currently in development and will need to be solid before commercial space travel is possible. Medicine is also an area that will need to be developed - we need to know how long periods in space will affect health.” From farming in space, to design, to communications, experts at the event made it clear that the opportunities are endless.
The UAE’s space sector is expanding quickly, and the expertise needed to fulfill the country’s aspirations will come from all industries. Driving the UAE’s space race is the mission of a nation and will bring with it new employment opportunities as well as an exceptional chance to contribute to the betterment of humanity.
Taking place at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) on October 8-9, Mohammed Bin Zayed Majlis for Future Generations offers Emirati students a unique opportunity to meet and engage with the UAE’s culture, social, and technological leaders. For two days, during the event on the event’s Majlis stage, local and international experts will share the expertise of today with the leaders of tomorrow.
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