The two Emiratis shortlisted for eight months in a Mars mission simulator are making final preparations for the task that requires them to live in almost complete isolation.
Abdullah Al Hammadi, 35, and Saleh Al Ameri, 31, are ready for the mission, but only one will be chosen to spend months with an international team of six inside the NEK center in Moscow. The other would be a backup.
The project – Sirius 20/21 – will measure the psychological and physiological impact of extreme environments, such as space travel, on humans.
The crew will conduct more than 60 experiments and the project will help plan long-range flights in space.
“I think the thing we will miss the most will be our family and friends, but we will try to keep in touch with them in our free time,” Al Ameri said.
He spoke at an online press conference on Sunday, a day after the second anniversary of Hazza Al Mansouri becoming the first Emirati in space.
The project’s “analog astronauts” could communicate with the outside world through e-mail and video messaging, the conference was told.
The analog astronaut is the term used to refer to the people participating in such simulations.
One of the biggest challenges for Emiratis has been adjusting to life in Moscow, Al Hammadi said.
“We had to learn Russian, and it’s a completely different environment for us here in Moscow to work with so many people of different nationalities,” he said.
Project scientist Shaikha Al Falasi said the experiences during the eight-month mission could have critical implications for the future of long-term space missions.
“This is going to tell us a lot about how the body reacts in such situations both physically and mentally,” she said.
“You just have to look at Covid-19, when people were in isolation for only a few weeks and the impact that had on people. “
Many countries have subjected scientists and astronauts to isolation tests for space travel.
A European Space Agency flight crew experienced 18 months of isolation in a sealed device in a Moscow suburb between 2007 and 2011.
The crew was put through stress tests, including a complete communications failure.
In 2017, NASA placed six astronauts in a dome in Hawaii that simulated the conditions of life on Mars.
They were given supplies, including canned tuna and powdered cheese, and wore sensors to measure voice levels and how close they were to others.
This allowed researchers to gather data to find out whether the astronauts were arguing or avoiding each other.
The UAE’s participation in the Sirius mission will play a pivotal role in collecting data for the country’s plans to build a colony on Mars by 2117.
“The mission to simulate life in space is of great importance, as it will allow us to ensure the safety and health of astronauts on long-term space exploration trips, ”said Adnan Al Rais, manager. of the March 2117 program for Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC).
“This mission will not be limited to the Mars 2117 project, but will cover the entire Emirates Astronaut program, to include the manned missions that our astronauts will perform in the future as well as other ambitious space programs as envisioned by our leaders. . “
Some universities in the United Arab Emirates will offer experience ideas for the Sirius mission.
“With the announcement of the start of the Sirius mission in November, we at MBRSC wanted to select and equip our astronauts according to strict mission protocols based on standards established with our international partners,” said Yousuf Hamad Al Shaibani, Director general. , MBRSC.
“They will carry out some of the experiments presented by some universities in the United Arab Emirates as part of our agreement with the scientific community in the country.”
Meet the Emiratis who joined the UAE Astronaut Corps – in pictures
Update: September 26, 2021, 3:11 p.m.