Following Russia’s departure from the Lunar Gateway, NASA has found a new partner in the United Arab Emirates

Following Russia’s departure from the Lunar Gateway, NASA has found a new partner in the United Arab Emirates

Zoom in / An artist concept of Lunar Gateway featuring elements from international partners.

NASA/Alberto Bertolin

Relations between NASA and Russia’s state space corporation were quite strong five years ago when the two sides signed a joint statement who spoke about the partnership for the development of a space station in orbit around the Moon, called Lunar Gateway. At the time, Russia’s Roscosmos was expected to provide an airlock for the facility.

A lot has happened in the five years since then, of course. In 2020, as NASA began to more concretely formulate its plans for lunar exploration under the Artemis program, Russia began to move away.

“In our opinion, the lunar gateway in its current form is too US-centric, so to speak,” said then-director general of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin. “Russia is likely to refrain from participating on a large scale.” At the time, Rogozin also expressed disdain for the NASA-created “Artemis Accords,” which established a set of principles to guide cooperation among nations involved in the agency’s century-long plans for lunar exploration. 21st

By the time Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, the country had already moved toward working with China on an “International Lunar Research Station.” This is a parallel effort to NASA’s Artemis program, which invites countries to join China and Russia in cooperating in lunar exploration.

As Russia walked away from NASA, nearly two dozen countries have signed multilateral agreements to join NASA’s Artemis agreements. one of the founding member countries, the United Arab Emirates, is looking to take its involvement further. On Tuesday, The National has reported that the UAE is in talks with NASA to provide an airlock for the Lunar Gateway. The small Middle Eastern nation has been working with Boeing on designs.

Separately, a source confirmed to Ars that the UAE has been talking to NASA for about a year to provide an airlock for the Gateway. The first elements of this small station, which will fly in a halo orbit around the Moon, are likely to be launched on a Falcon Heavy rocket in late 2024 or 2025. Humans will not live in the Gateway continuously, as is the case with the International Space Station, but to inhabit it periodically. An airlock would facilitate spacewalks.

The Islamic nation, which is smaller than the US state of Maine, has a population of about 9 million people. However, he has expressed an inordinate interest in space exploration. In June 2020, through a partnership with the University of Colorado Boulder, the United Arab Emirates space program sent the “Hope” probe to Mars to study the red planet’s atmosphere. UAE officials said the aim of this program was to inspire its younger generation to pursue science, technology, engineering and medicine. At that time, only Russia, the United States, the European Union and India had successfully put a spacecraft into orbit around Mars.

Last weekend, the United Arab Emirates participated in its first moon launch. His little lunar explorer Rashid was a passenger aboard the Landing Hakuto-R, which was commercially developed by the Japanese company ispace. This mission was successfully launched on a Falcon 9 rocket and is expected to land on the Moon early next year.

The country also has a small corps of astronauts. In 2019, Hazza Al Mansouri flew to the International Space Station on a Soyuz rocket for eight days as a visiting astronaut. Next February, Sultan Al Neyadi is scheduled to join the Crew-6 mission, where he will spend about six months aboard the space station. His seat was mediated by Axiom Space. Other UAE astronauts are training in Houston for future space missions.

Through its partnership in the Artemis agreements, the UAE is positioning itself to send an astronaut to the Lunar Gate later this decade, and perhaps to the surface of the Moon in the 2030s.

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