In a groundbreaking collaboration, NASA and the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have announced plans for the UAE to provide an airlock for Gateway, humanity’s first space station that will orbit the Moon. This partnership will support NASA’s long-term exploration missions under Artemis and bring about extraordinary opportunities for space exploration.
Vice President Kamala Harris, who chairs the National Space Council, expressed her commitment to enhancing international cooperation in space. She stated,
“By combining our resources, scientific capacity, and technical skill, the U.S. and UAE will further our collective vision for space and ensure it presents extraordinary opportunities for everyone here on Earth.”
Under the new agreement, MBRSC will supply Gateway’s Crew and Science Airlock module, as well as send a UAE astronaut on a future Artemis mission to the lunar space station. This collaboration marks a historic moment in the collaboration between the United States and the United Arab Emirates in space exploration.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson emphasized the significance of this partnership, stating,
“We are in a new era of exploration through Artemis – strengthened by the peaceful and international exploration of space. The UAE’s provision of the airlock to Gateway will allow astronauts to conduct groundbreaking science in deep space and prepare to one day send humanity to Mars.”
In addition to operating the airlock, MBRSC will provide engineering support for the life of the lunar space station. The airlock will facilitate transfers between Gateway’s pressurized crew modules and the vacuum of space, enabling crew and science research transfers and supporting broader scientific endeavors in deep space.
Gateway will serve as a hub for sustained exploration and research in deep space, providing a living and working space for astronauts, acting as a staging point for lunar surface missions, and offering opportunities for spacewalks while orbiting the Moon.
NASA’s Artemis program is a diverse coalition of nations collaborating in human exploration of deep space. With the participation of the Canadian Space Agency, European Space Agency, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and now the MBRSC, NASA aims to return humans to the lunar surface and pave the way for the first human missions to Mars.
This collaboration on Gateway builds upon the previous partnership between NASA and the UAE in human spaceflight. In 2019, Hazzaa Almansoori became the first Emirati to fly to space and collaborated with NASA on experiments and educational outreach. Sultan Al Neyadi, another Emirati astronaut, participated in scientific research on the International Space Station during NASA’s SpaceX Crew-6 mission in 2023. The UAE currently has two additional astronaut candidates training at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.
The United States and UAE were among the original signatories of the Artemis Accords in 2020, which establish principles for space exploration cooperation among participating nations.
Through Artemis, NASA aims to achieve significant milestones, including landing the first woman and the first person of color on the Moon’s surface. This mission will lay the foundation for a long-term lunar presence and serve as a steppingstone for future human missions to Mars.