2 pioneer Emirati astronauts inspire new colleague Mohammed Al Mulla

Mohammed Al Mulla, the 33-year-old Emirati who was recently inducted into the second batch of the UAE Astronaut Programme – along with fellow Emirati Nora Al Matrooshi – says his passion for space first grew out of his love for aviation.

Al Mulla is the Head of the Training Department of the Air Wing Centre at Dubai Police.

Al Mulla was able to channel his love for space when he learned about the existence of the UAE Astronaut Programme – initiated and overseen by Dubai’s Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC).

Defining encounter

His desire to join the programme – the first of its kind in the Middle East region – grew all the more when he met Emirati astronauts Hazzaa Al Mansoori and Sultan Al Neyadi, who represent the first batch of the UAE Astronaut Programme.

Al Mansoori was the first Emirati astronaut to launch into space when he undertook an eight-day crewed mission to the International Space Station (ISS) from September 25-October 3, 2019.

Al Neyadi was a backup astronaut for the ISS crew mission at the time.

Mohammed Al Mulla
(L-R) Emirati astronauts Sultan Al Neyadi and Hazzaa Al Mansoori sign their photos at the 2019 Dubai Airshow. Credit: Arnold Pinto

Al Mulla took the opportunity of the 2019 Dubai Airshow, to meet Al Mansoori and Al Neyadi, and to discuss with the duo what being an astronaut was all about.

Fired up from his meeting with the two pioneer Emirati astronauts, Al Mulla registered for the second batch of the UAE Astronaut Programme in 2019.

After an exhaustive MBRSC selection process involving 4,305 candidates, Al Mulla was selected to be the latest Emirati astronaut, along with 28-year-old Al Matrooshi, who is the first female Emirati astronaut and also the first female Arab astronaut.

Al Matrooshi is an engineer at the National Petroleum Construction Company in Abu Dhabi.

NASA-bound

Al Mulla and Al Matrooshi are set to join the 2021 NASA astronaut candidate programme at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

Johnson Space Center is NASA’s dedicated facility for human spaceflight, where human spaceflight training, research, and flight control are conducted.

Born in Dubai, at the age of 19, Al Mulla obtained a commercial pilot’s licence from the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA).

He then became the youngest Air Wing pilot in Dubai Police.

Mohammed Al Mulla
Mohammed Al Mulla and Nora Al Matrooshi are to train at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Credits: MBRSC/NASA

At the age of 28, he became the youngest Air Wing trainer in Dubai Police after obtaining a pilot trainer licence from the UAE GCAA.

Al Mulla holds a bachelor’s degree in law and economics and an Executive Master of Public Administration from the Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government.

Al Mulla considers His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, to be his role model.

Role models

He also looks up to Emirati astronauts Al Mansoori and Al Neyadi as his role models.

Al Mulla’s personal motto: “The person who pursues their goal in life will achieve it, no matter how long it takes.”

With a love for photography, soccer and chess, Al Mulla hopes to join the first Emirati team to explore the Moon.

The UAE Astronaut Programme aims to develop a national team of astronauts to achieve the Gulf country’s growing aspirations in scientific exploration and participating in international human space missions, while also strengthening country’s growing space industry.

The programme is funded by the UAE’s ICT Fund of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority.

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