The UAE Space Agency and the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) signed an Implementing Agreement (IA) on 2 October 2018 on the sidelines of the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) held in Bremen, Germany, which will open the way for collaborative projects in space science and exploration, as well as in human spaceflight.
“This significant agreement builds on our bilateral relationship with NASA and the US space sector. It also reflects the deep economic, cultural and diplomatic ties shared between the United States of America and the United Arab Emirates,” said Dr. Ahmad bin Abdullah Al Falasi, Chairman of the UAE Space Agency. “The global space sector is built on international collaboration, and we welcome these substantial opportunities to work closer than ever before with our counterparts at NASA.”
The IA falls under the Framework Agreement signed by the UAESA and NASA in June 2016, establishing a framework for areas of cooperation in ground-based research; sub-orbital research; research and flight activities in low-Earth orbit (LEO); and human and robotic exploration in the vicinity of the Moon, on the lunar surface, and beyond.
The new IA enables the discussion of training arrangements for UAE astronauts and provides further opportunities for the UAE to utilise the International Space Station (ISS), and for the UAE Space Agency to contribute to lunar exploration.
“The signing of this agreement reflects the UAE Space Agency’s commitment to further strengthening partnerships with the most important space agencies around the world, with a shared aspiration to launch space exploration projects that benefit humanity in its entirety. It is also in line with the UAE’s objectives of bolstering its presence within the global space sector,” Al Falasi added.
The IA also outlines opportunities for ground based research projects at the UAE’s Mars Scientific City in collaboration with the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), a landmark research and development facility that aims to simulate conditions on the Red Planet and is set to launch in 2020.
As part of the agreement, and in collaboration with MBRSC, the UAE Space Agency and NASA will explore the feasibility of conducting field studies and research in space biology, physical sciences and human research at the City. The projects will aim to make use of Mars Scientific City and the NASA Human Research Analog, a unique facility dedicated to investigating the effects of spaceflight on human beings.
“The UAE, represented by UAESA, is taking another significant step by signing this strategic partnership with one of the world’s leading space institutions,” said Yousuf Al Shaibani, Director General of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC). “… This collaboration agreement with NASA reflects our limitless ambition to build on global partnerships and launch initiatives that benefit both UAE and the globe.”
The agreement was signed by Dr. Al Falasi and NASA Administrator James Bridenstine.
“As NASA builds cooperation for the return of humans to the Moon for long-term exploration and utilization, we welcome the opportunity to expand our partnership with the UAE Space Agency as it builds its significant capabilities on Earth, in low-Earth orbit, and beyond. UAE is currently working with U.S. universities to build an orbiter “Hope”, to launch in 2020 and reach Mars in 2021. I’m delighted to sign this agreement signifying our deepening relationship as we move forward into the next phase of exploration,” Bridenstine said.