24/7 Space News
First Arab woman to graduate NASA training shoots for the Moon
First Arab woman to graduate NASA training shoots for the Moon
By Mois�s �VILA
Houston (AFP) March 7, 2024

Like her ancestors before her, Emirati astronaut Nora AlMatrooshi has spent much of her life gazing up at the stars and dreaming of flying to the Moon.

This week, she became the first Arab woman to graduate from NASA's training program, ready to blast off into the cosmos.

AlMatrooshi, 30, remembers an elementary school lesson about space in which her teacher simulated a trip to the lunar surface, complete with arts-and-crafts spacesuits and a tent for a rocket ship.

"We got out of the tent, and we saw that she had turned off the lights in our classroom. She had everything covered in gray cloth, and she was telling us that we were on the surface of the Moon," AlMatrooshi told AFP.

"That day resonated with me, and it stuck with me. And I remember thinking, 'This is amazing. I actually want to do this for real, I want to actually get to the surface of the Moon.' And that's when it all started," she recalled, dressed in a blue flight suit embroidered with her name and the UAE flag.

AlMatrooshi, a mechanical engineer by training who has worked in the oil industry, was one of two astronaut candidates chosen by the United Arab Emirates Space Agency (UAESA) in 2021 to enroll in a training program with US space agency NASA.

Now, after two years of hard work -- including practice spacewalks -- AlMatrooshi, her fellow Emirati Mohammad AlMulla and 10 others in their training class are fully qualified astronauts.

The group, known as "The Flies," are now eligible for NASA missions to the International Space Station (ISS), Artemis launches to the Moon and, if all goes well, to even fly to Mars.

The UAESA announced earlier this year plans to build the airlock -- a specialized doorway -- for Gateway, the space station in development to someday orbit the Moon.

"I want to push humanity further than it's ever been before. I want humanity to go back to the Moon, and I want humanity to go further beyond the Moon," AlMatrooshi said.

"And I want to be part of that journey."

Though AlMatrooshi is the first to graduate from NASA, other Arab women have already participated in private space missions, including Saudi biomedical researcher Rayyanah Barnawi, who flew with Axiom Space to the ISS last year, and Egyptian-Lebanese engineer Sara Sabry, one of the crew on a 2022 Blue Origin suborbital flight.

- Custom space hijab -

AlMatrooshi, who wears a hijab as part of her Muslim faith, explained that NASA developed a strategy to allow her to keep her hair covered while donning the agency's iconic white space suit and helmet, known officially as the Extravehicular Mobility Unit, or EMU.

"Once you get into the EMU you put on a (communications) cap (fitted with microphones and speakers), which... covers your hair," she said.

The challenge comes in the moment after AlMatrooshi takes off her regular hijab but before she puts on the communications cap. To complicate matters further, only specifically authorized materials can be worn inside the EMU.

"The suit engineers ended up sewing a makeshift hijab for me, to where I could put it on, get into the suit, and then put on the comm cap, and then take it off and my hair would be covered. So I really, really appreciate them doing that for me," AlMatrooshi said.

With her customized suit, AlMatrooshi will be ready to step out into space with her fellow astronauts.

NASA plans to return humans to the surface of the Moon in 2026 for the Artemis 3 mission.

"I think becoming an astronaut is hard, regardless of what your religion or what your background is," she told AFP.

"I don't think being a Muslim made it harder. But being a Muslim made me aware of the contributions of my ancestors, of the Muslim scholars and scientists who came before me who were studying the stars.

"Me becoming an astronaut is just building on that legacy of what they started thousands and thousands of years ago," AlMatrooshi said.

Related Links
Space Tourism, Space Transport and Space Exploration News

Subscribe Free To Our Daily Newsletters

The following news reports may link to other Space Media Network websites.
New NASA astronauts graduate, eying Moon -- and Mars
JSC, Texas (AFP) March 5, 2024
After two years of rigorous training, ten Americans officially became astronauts on Tuesday, and are now eligible for planned NASA missions to the International Space Station, the Moon, and - if all goes well - to Mars. Two Emiratis who trained alongside them also graduated Tuesday during a ceremony at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Members of the class, nicknamed "The Flies," were selected from more than 12,000 applicants in 2021 and their training included simulated spacewalking, robot ... read more

Astroforensics: Pioneering Blood Behavior Research for Space Crime Solving

Refined approach to tracking maneuvers of space targets enhances accuracy

Spacesuits need a major upgrade for the next phase of exploration

NASA to accept astronaut applications through April 2

Dream Chaser spaceplane nears flight readiness with completion of key pre-flight tests

Karman Space and Defense boosts ULA's Vulcan on Its Maiden flight

NASA Helps Emerging Space Companies 'Take the Heat'

Orbit Fab Announces Strategic Leadership Reorganization to Propel Space Refueling Innovation

Rover Kinesthetics: Sols 4116-4117

Study reveals potential for life's building blocks from Mars' ancient atmosphere

Little Groundwater Recharge in Ancient Mars Aquifer, According to New Models

Three years later, search for life on Mars continues

Chang'e 6 and new rockets highlight China's packed 2024 space agenda

Long March 5 deploys Communication Technology Demonstrator 11 satellite

Shenzhou 17 astronauts complete China's first in-space repair job

Tiangong Space Station's Solar Wings Restored After Spacewalk Repair by Shenzhou XVII Team

Meridian Space Command establishes new HQ at Leicester's Space Innovation Hub

Sateliot unveils plan to expand its 5G IoT satellite constellation this year

US and Australia signs Space Technology Safeguards Agreement

SKorea enhances military operations with Iridium connectivity

Apex Launches Aries SN1, Marks a Milestone in Satellite Bus Production with Record-Breaking Build Time

Full Disclousre: Enhanced Radiation Warnings for Space Tourists

Globalsat Group enhances IoT offerings with Myriota SatCom technology

Terran Orbital shares in $45M NASA contract for technology enhancement

Interstellar signal linked to aliens was actually just a truck

Space research sheds new light on formation of planets

More Planets than Stars: Kepler's Legacy

Scripps Research scientists reveal how first cells could have formed on Earth

NASA's Europa Jupiter Mission will be packed with humanity's messages

UCF scientists use James Webb Space Telescope to uncover clues about Neptune's evolution

New moons of Uranus and Neptune announced

NASA's New Horizons Detects Dusty Hints of Extended Kuiper Belt

Subscribe Free To Our Daily Newsletters

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2024 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.