The United Arab Emirates will build the Lunar Gateway Airlock module instead of Russia

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has contributed to the construction of the Lunar Gateway space outpost, which will orbit the Moon in the next decade. The Persian Gulf country has assumed responsibility for the construction of the airlock module. Thus, the UAE has shown that it will be more actively involved in NASA’s Artemis program.

This week, NASA and the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) announced a collaboration in which the UAE would build an airlock module for the Gateway space station. The airlock compartment will allow astronauts to exit the habitable environment of sealed crew modules into outer space. Cooperation between the two space agencies will also include the launch of an Emirati astronaut as part of the upcoming Artemis mission to the lunar space station.

“We are in a new era of exploration through Artemis – strengthened by the peaceful and international exploration of space. 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,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

NASA and MBRSC have entered into an agreement to provide the Crew and Science Airlock module for the Gateway Space Station. The image shows an illustration of the Gateway (on the left) and an artistic concept of the airlock (on the right). Image: NASA

Lunar Gateway is the first space station designed to be placed in orbit around the Moon. The station will include laboratories for scientific research as well as living spaces for four astronauts. Gateway is a vital component of the Artemis program, designed to return astronauts to the moon and build a colony on its surface in the future. 

The UAE was one of the first countries to sign the Artemis agreement in October 2020. Although the UAE’s space program is at an early stage, the Arab country has achieved significant success over the past few years. The UAE launched the first ambitious mission to Mars, which successfully entered orbit around the Red Planet in February 2021. The UAE astronaut, Sultan Al Neyadi, launched to the International Space Station in March 2023 as part of the SpaceX Crew-6 mission and became the first Arab astronaut to perform a spacewalk outside the space station.

Gateway station (concept). Source: Thales Alenia Space

Initially, it was assumed that Russia would build the airlock for the Lunar Gateway. But in 2021, it began to move away from the project as relations between NASA and Roscosmos began to deteriorate, especially after Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

Earlier, we talked about the 5 most promising space stations of the present and future.

According to NASA

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