Dubai, UAE (CBS News) – Dressed in astronauts’ blue suits, Mohammad Al-Mulla and Nora Al-Matrooshi’s destiny is written in the stars.
They have been selected from the second batch of the UAE astronaut programme to begin their in-house training ahead of their trip to Houston to join NASA.
They will eventually head to the International Space Station.
Nora Al-Matrooshi is a 28-year-old who holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. She will be the Arab world’s first female astronaut.
Her passion for space began at a young age, when she went to stargazing events. Matrooshi wants to encourage more girls and young women to consider a career in the space travel industry “be it through becoming scientist or by training or working hard towards becoming an astronaut.”
Mohammad Al-Mulla, a 34-year-old commercial pilot, is currently the Head of Training Department of the Air Wing Centre at Dubai Police.
“I hope my experience in the aviation field that will be supporting for a bigger mission in the future in the space,” he says.
He hopes to one day explore the Moon.
The astronauts are currently undergoing in-house training at Mohammad Bin Rashid Space Centre, which includes swimming, scuba diving, survival exercises, stamina improvement, aircraft flying classes and Russian language training.
The astronauts will move to Houston in December 2021 to begin preparing for the “2021 NASA Astronaut Candidate Class”, as part of a joint strategic agreement between the UAE and the United States of America to train them at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.
In 2021, the UAE launched the Emirates Mars Mission “Hope Probe”, which became the first Arab interplanetary mission to reach the Martian orbit.
The Hope Probe will gather key scientific data about Mars’ atmosphere.