Title: UAE to Develop Airlock Module for Lunar Gateway in Historic Collaboration with NASA
In a landmark development, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has unveiled plans to contribute to the lunar Gateway, strengthening its position in the Artemis lunar exploration initiative. The UAE’s Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) and NASA jointly announced the UAE’s commitment to developing the Crew and Science Airlock for the Gateway, a crucial component allowing for spacewalks and the installation and retrieval of science payloads.
While the completion date for the airlock module remains unspecified, the crown prince of Dubai has set an ambitious target of 2030. In addition to this contribution, the UAE has secured a seat on an upcoming Artemis mission, solidifying its growing presence in deep space exploration.
Described as a historic moment in space collaboration, this partnership between the UAE and the United States showcases the importance of international cooperation in advancing scientific frontiers. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson emphasized that the airlock will play a pivotal role in conducting groundbreaking research in deep space, as well as in further preparations for future human missions to Mars.
The lunar Gateway, an extension of the International Space Station (ISS) partnership, will be placed in a near-rectilinear halo orbit around the moon, specifically geared for supporting lunar landings in the south polar region. The construction of the Gateway will occur in stages, with a propulsion element and habitation module set to be launched in 2025.
Originally, Russia was expected to contribute the airlock module but later withdrew from the lunar Gateway program, citing perceived US-centricity. NASA had engaged in discussions with an undisclosed nation before ultimately finalizing the agreement with the UAE.
The UAE has been making significant strides in its space program, marked by successful missions to Mars and long-duration stays on the ISS. The country has expressed keen interest in participating in both the NASA-led Artemis initiative and the Chinese-led International Lunar Research Station (ILRS).
Moreover, the UAE’s commitment to the Artemis mission was further showcased when it became one of the original signatories of the Artemis Accords, signifying its dedication to international collaboration in space exploration. Additionally, collaborations have been established between the UAE’s University of Sharjah and China’s Deep Space Exploration Laboratory for the ILRS.
Despite obstacles posed by U.S. export control restrictions, the UAE has also engaged in efforts to collaborate with China for a lunar rover mission, highlighting the nation’s unwavering commitment to expanding global partnerships in pursuit of space exploration.
This collaborative agreement underlines the inclusive nature of the Artemis initiative, demonstrating how countries can come together to push the boundaries of space exploration. The UAE’s dedication to constructing the literal gateway to the moon reflects the growing global partnership at the heart of the Artemis program.