Noura Al-Matrooshi, 28-year-old, becomes UAE’s first female astronaut

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The United Arab Emirates on Saturday announced Noura Al-Matrooshi as the country’s first female astronaut.

Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the country’s vice-president, said Al-Matrooshi is one of two new astronauts in the UAE’s Mohammed Bin Rashid (MBR) Space Centre astronaut programme.

Al-Matrooshi, 28-year-old, was chosen alongside Mohammed Al-Mulla, out of over 4,000 candidates who applied for the programme.

She described her selection into the programme as unforgettable while expressing readiness to commence work.

​“The nation gave me unforgettable moments today. I aim to work hard to script historical moments and achievements that will be etched forever in the memory of our people,” Al-Matrooshi wrote on Twitter.

“I thank our wise leadership and the team of the UAE Astronaut Programme. Preparations and work begin now.”

Al-Matrooshi holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the United Arab Emirates University. She is a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

She is also an engineer at the National Petroleum Construction Company.

The MBR Space Centre said in a video profile of Al-Matrooshi that “space was her passion since childhood”.

“Her passion in space began at a young age, as she enjoyed going to stargazing events. She lives by the motto of ‘Do what makes you happy,’” the centre said.

Both candidates will be trained with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration  (NASA) for future space exploration missions.

According to NASA, as of March 2021, 65 women have flown in space, including cosmonauts, astronauts, payload specialists, and space station participants.

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