News United Arab Emirates

UAE Secures Historic Agreement with US for Lunar Gateway Airlock, Paving the Way for Emirati Astronauts in Moon Missions

The UAE has officially entered into a significant agreement with the United States to contribute an airlock to NASA’s Lunar Gateway station, marking a historic milestone that also paves the way for Emirati astronauts to participate in upcoming Moon missions.

The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) will be responsible for supplying the airlock, an essential airtight chamber facilitating access to and from a space station, with plans to complete the contribution by the end of the decade.

President Sheikh Mohamed, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed and Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed are joined by the four UAE astronauts and other members of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre for a photograph. Photo: Abdulla Al Neyadi / Presidential Court

The agreement not only secures access to the Lunar Gateway for UAE astronauts but also aligns with the country’s ambitions to send its first Emirati to the Moon’s orbit. President Sheikh Mohamed expressed his pleasure at the collaboration on X, emphasizing the UAE’s commitment to international partnerships for advancements in space exploration and scientific innovation.

In a statement, Salem Al Marri, the director general of the MBRSC, described the deal as a “huge step” for the UAE’s space program. The partnership involves collaboration between the US and the UAE, with the MBRSC working alongside NASA for the construction and procurement of the airlock, supporting the Gateway program. The UAE’s involvement in the Gateway initiative signifies its commitment to becoming a key player in advancing space exploration.

A model on display during the inauguration. Photo: Abdulla Al Bedwawi / Presidential Court

The Lunar Gateway, a crucial component of NASA’s Artemis program, aims to establish a sustainable human presence on the Moon. The station, assembled in lunar orbit, will serve as a base for Artemis missions, facilitating human exploration of the Moon’s surface with the help of landing modules developed by SpaceX and Blue Origin.

The details of the agreement include the MBRSC’s collaboration with international companies to develop the airlock, with the construction cost estimated to be around $100 million. The UAE’s full access to the Lunar Gateway encompasses participation in scientific activities and operational aspects, as well as extensive training opportunities for Emirati astronauts. The project is expected to play a pivotal role in returning humans to the Moon and serving as a launchpad for future missions to Mars.