UAE says its first astronaut going into space in September

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UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has announced the date the first astronaut from the Gulf Arab nation will go into space.

The UAE said on Monday it will send either Hazza al-Mansoori or Sultan al-Neyadi to the International Space Station on September 25 aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket.

Organisers had earlier said they would announce the astronaut who was going but instead gave just the launch date.

Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum had already announced the astronauts’ names last September.

The UAE has a fledgeling space program with big ambitions. It launched its first locally made satellite KhalifaSat from Japan in October. It wants to launch a probe to Mars in 2020.

The UAE also says it wants to colonise Mars by 2117, with a fully functioning city of 600,000.