The United Arab Emirates is slated to send its first astronaut to the International Space Station in the spring of 2019.
Either Hazza al-Mansouri, 34, or Sultan al-Neyadi, 37, will fly into orbit in Soyuz MS-12 alongside Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka and NASA astronaut Christina Hammock.
The UAE astronaut will remain aboard the outpost for about 11 days and return home with the crew of Soyuz MS-10—Russian cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin and NASA astronaut Nick Hague—who will have been aboard the outpost for about six months following their launch, currently anticipated for Oct. 11, 2018.
Skripochka and Hammock are expected to stay at the ISS through October 2019.
It has not been determined who will fly on that mission, but both have qualified for it and started their training in Russia in September, according to Sputniknews. The person not chosen to fly will serve as the backup to the other.
The two were chosen from more than 4,000 applicants after passing six stages of assessment as well as personal interviews by NASA and Roscosmos, according to Gulf News.
In addition to the ISS mission, the UAE is aiming to send its first spacecraft toward Mars in 2020. Called the Emirates Mars Mission, it is being led by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre in Dubai. Liftoff of the 1,500 kilogram probe called “Hope” is currently targeted for July of 2020 atop a Japanese H-2A rocket from the Tanegashima Space Center with a planned Mars orbit insertion in 2021.