KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — Axiom Space and the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center announced Friday that an astronaut from the United Arab Emirates has been signed on to launch from Florida’s Space Coast to the International Space Station.
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The UAE astronaut will join NASA’s SpaceX Crew-6 mission to the ISS, which is planned for launch in April 2023.
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Officials said the mission is expected to last around six months and will mark the first long-duration flight of an astronaut from an Arab nation.
“It is our great pleasure to sign the agreement with the United Arab Emirates’ Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center, marking the first time a commercial space company has made such a mission possible,” said Michael Suffredini, president and CEO of Axiom Space. “Axiom Space is proud to provide MBRSC with a flight opportunity for a UAE astronaut, enabling its first long-term mission to the ISS.”
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Officials said that while UAE has previously flown an astronaut to the ISS onboard the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, this will be the first non-ISS partnered professional astronaut flight facilitated by a U.S. commercial space company.
The agreement was signed in the U.S. Embassy by both parties: H.E Salem Al-Marri, MBRSC’s director-general, and Suffredini.
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Officials said the UAE crew member will serve as a member of two Expedition crews onboard the space station across the six-month timeframe.
The UAE astronaut will join NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen and Warren Hoburg, as well as one other crew member who has yet to be picked for the launch.
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