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UAE Astronaut Set for Mars Simulation Mission in NASA’s Hera Project

UAE Astronaut Set for Mars Simulation Mission in NASA's Hera Project

Shareef Al Romaithi Joins International Crew in Houston for 45-Day Mars Analog Study

The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) has announced that Emirati pilot Shareef Al Romaithi will be participating in an upcoming NASA simulation designed to mimic the conditions of a mission to Mars. This intensive 45-day experiment, starting May 10, is set to take place at the Hera facility in Houston, Texas, involving analogue astronauts to understand the impact of space travel on human health and psychology.

Detailed Mission Objectives and International Collaboration

As part of the Human Exploration Research Analogue (Hera) project, Al Romaithi and his team will live under conditions simulating those of a space mission, including isolation and confinement. This study represents a significant stride towards achieving the UAE’s ambitious goals in space exploration. “This mission, through scientific research and international cooperation with NASA, aims to enrich our understanding of the challenges of prolonged space missions,” said Salem Al Marri, Director General of MBRSC.

Experienced Pilot at the Forefront

Shareef Al Romaithi brings extensive experience to the project, with over 16 years as a pilot and more than 9,000 flight hours on various Airbus and Boeing aircraft. His background is expected to add valuable insights into the physiological and psychological studies conducted during the simulation.

A Comprehensive Study with Broad Implications

The Hera facility is designed to replicate the isolated, confined, and remote conditions typical of space missions. Al Romaithi is part of the second group of volunteers to participate in the UAE’s Analogue Programme this year, following the completion of the first phase in March. Additional phases are scheduled for August and November.

The program also includes contributions from academic institutions such as the United Arab Emirates University (UAEU), Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences (MBRU), and the American University of Sharjah (AUS). These institutions are conducting six experiments in collaboration with MBRSC, further broadening the research scope of the simulation.


The UAE continues to make significant advancements in space exploration, following the participation of Saleh Al Ameri in an eight-month simulation mission in Russia in 2022. This ongoing commitment not only enhances scientific understanding but also positions the UAE as a leader in the global space community, inspiring future generations in the sector. The insights from these Earth-based simulations are vital for preparing humanity for eventual Mars exploration and beyond.

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