UAE Announces Collaboration With NASA’s Lunar Gateway Station

Creative concept for the Lunar Gateway Station to be built by the UAE and NASA.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) announced an exciting new implementing arrangement with NASA’s Lunar Gateway Station — humanity’s first Moon-orbiting space station. Under this implementing arrangement, the UAE will assist in developing an airlock module for the station, and an Emirati astronaut will be sent on a lunar mission at a later date. Through this project, Emirati scientists will collaborate with the U.S. and other countries, including Japan, Canada and the European Union. Lunar Gateway supports NASA’s long-term exploration of the Moon and deep space by providing a location for astronauts to live, research and conduct spacewalks during its Artemis missions.

The MBRSC’s contribution to this project will further enhance the country’s presence in space science and technology — an area in which the UAE continues to make strides.

The Lunar Gateway Station Project

The MBRSC’s primary objective under the new U.S.-UAE implementing arrangement is to develop the Crew and Science Airlock module for the Lunar Gateway Station. The airlock is a crucial part of the Gateway, as it will serve as a portal for crew and science research transfers to go between the station’s habitable environments to space. The airlock will be developed over five main stages: planning, design, qualification process, flight preparation and operations. Once completed, the MBRSC will manage and maintain the Gateway airlock. In addition to the airlock, the arrangement entails that a UAE astronaut will travel to the station on a future Artemis mission — marking the first time an Emirati astronaut will be in lunar orbit.

Discussing the impact of the UAE’s involvement with Gateway, Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba said, “The UAE’s contribution to Gateway is really one more small step forward in our close relationship with the U.S. — while at the same time, representing a giant leap forward for humankind’s exploration of the moon and deep space. We are gratified to join NASA and a global best-in-class team.”

U.S.-UAE Collaboration in Space

The NASA-MBRSC arrangement builds off of previous space partnerships between the U.S. and the UAE. Emirati and American astronauts and scientists have worked together to conduct and complete experiments — such as Emirati scientist Alia Al Mansoori’s experiment on genes in space in collaboration with NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson. In 2023, Emirati astronaut Dr. Sultan Al Neyadi joined NASA’s SpaceX Crew-6 Mission to the International Space Station (ISS.) Ambassador Al Otaiba and U.S. entertainer Steve Harvey hosted a ‘Call from Space’ event where the hosts video chatted with Dr. Al Neyadi and NASA astronaut Warren ‘Woody’ Hoburg at the ISS. Dr. Al Neyadi and Hazza Al Mansouri, the first Emirati astronaut in space, previously completed NASA’s training program to prepare for their U.S.-led missions.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson spoke about the countries’ continued bilateral cooperation in space with the new arrangement, stating “The United States and the United Arab Emirates are marking a historic moment in our nations’ collaboration in space, and the future of human space exploration. We are in a new era of exploration through Artemis — strengthened by the peaceful and international exploration of space.”

Aside from the Gateway project, the UAE and U.S. will celebrate more exciting space partnerships in the near future — one being Nora Al Matrooshi’s graduation from NASA’s astronaut training program in March 2024. This is an especially exciting milestone as Nora will be the UAE’s first female astronaut to graduate from the program, as well as the first Emirati female astronaut to be eligible for space missions.

Emirati Space Exploration Continues to Expand

From planetary missions to empowering Emirati women in STEM, the UAE continues to establish itself as a leading country in space science, technology and exploration. The Lunar Gateway collaboration is yet another mark of progress in the UAE’s space efforts — especially as partnerships with NASA and other space organizations have bolstered Emirati space successes.

Learn more about how the UAE is innovating the future of space science and exploration.