The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is contributing to the lunar outpost that will be built around the Moon, building the Gateway’s airlock module in a sign that the gulf country will be more involved in NASA’s Artemis program.
This week, NASA and the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) announced a collaboration whereby the UAE will provide the Crew and Science Airlock module for the Gateway Space Station. The airlock will allow crew members and scientific research to exit the habitable environment of the pressurized crew modules into deep space.
“We are in a new era of exploration through Artemis – strengthened by the peaceful and international exploration of space,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement. “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.”
The collaboration between the two space agencies will also include the launch of an Emirati astronaut on a future Artemis mission to the lunar space station. The Lunar Gateway is the first space station designed to be placed in orbit around the Moon, and it will include labs for scientific research, as well as living quarters for four astronauts. The Gateway is a vital component of NASA’s Artemis program, designed to return astronauts to the Moon and make it a viable place for long-term human presence.
Related article: What to Know About Lunar Gateway, NASA’s Future Moon-Orbiting Space Station
The UAE was one of the first nations to sign onto the Artemis accords in October 2020. Although the UAE’s space program is in its early phases, the Arab nation has made great strides in the past few years. The UAE launched an ambitious first mission to Mars, which successfully entered into orbit around the Red Planet in February 2021. UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi launched to the International Space Station in March 2023 as part of SpaceX’s Crew-6 mission, and became the first Arab astronaut to conduct a spacewalk outside the space station.
Russia was originally supposed to provide the airlock for Lunar Gateway but began to pull away from the project in 2021 as the relationship between NASA and Roscosmos started disintegrating.
Want to know more about humanity’s next giant leap in space? Check out our full coverage of NASA’s Artemis Moon program, the new Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft, the recently concluded Artemis 1 mission around the Moon, the four-person Artemis 2 crew, and NASA and Axiom’s Artemis Moon suit. And for more spaceflight in your life, follow us on X (formerly Twitter) and bookmark Gizmodo’s dedicated Spaceflight page.
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