UAE partners with NASA to build components for planned Moon space station

NASA announced on Sunday that it will partner with the UAE Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center, or MBRSC, to build an “air lock” that will be a critical part of future Artemis/Gateway space missions to launch a space station to orbit the Moon. (X/@MBRSpaceCentre)
NASA announced on Sunday that it will partner with the UAE Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center, or MBRSC, to build an “air lock” that will be a critical part of future Artemis/Gateway space missions to launch a space station to orbit the Moon. (X/@MBRSpaceCentre)
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Updated 07 January 2024
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UAE partners with NASA to build components for planned Moon space station

UAE partners with NASA to build components for planned Moon space station
  • NASA launched the unmanned Artemis I Mission in November 2022, lasting 25 days
  • MBRSC will provide Gateway’s crew module and science airlock module

CHICAGO: The US National Space Agency announced on Sunday that it will partner with the UAE Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center, or MBRSC, to build an “air lock” that will be a critical part of future Artemis/Gateway space missions to launch a space station to orbit the Moon.

NASA launched the unmanned Artemis I Mission in November 2022, lasting 25 days, and is planning Artemis II, also called Gateway, to launch four astronauts on a Moon mission scheduled for November 2024.

The UAE is involved in the construction of a station that will eventually be launched in space around the Moon and that will serve as a stepping-stone to build a Moon base that will serve to launch further missions to explore Mars.

“The United States and the United Arab Emirates are marking a historic moment in our nations’ collaboration in space, and the future of human space exploration,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement.

“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.”

MBRSC will provide Gateway’s crew module and science airlock module, as well as a UAE astronaut to fly to the lunar space station on a future Artemis mission.

“Today’s announcement and partnership between the United States and United Arab Emirates advances this important work. By combining our resources, scientific capacity and technical skill, the US and UAE will further our collective vision for space and ensure it presents extraordinary opportunities for everyone here on Earth,” said US Vice President Kamala Harris.

Artemis II will land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon, using “innovative technologies to explore more of the lunar surface,” NASA officials said.

NASA is working with commercial and international partners including Saudi Arabia and the UAE to establish the first long-term presence on the Moon. NASA officials said that the Moon landing would allow the Artemis team “to take the next giant leap: sending the first astronauts to Mars.”

Gateway is a vital component of the NASA-led Artemis missions to return to the Moon and chart a path for the first human missions to Mars. The small space station will be a multi-purpose outpost orbiting the Moon and providing essential support for lunar surface missions, a destination for science, and serving as a staging point for further deep space exploration. NASA is working with commercial and international partners to establish Gateway, according to NASA information.

Among members of the Artemis Accords is Saudi Arabia, which established a scholarship program to train young people in space travel and launched an astronaut program in 2022. Saudi Prince Sultan bin Salman was the Arab world’s first astronaut to participate in Nasa’s Space Shuttle in 1985. He was also the first Arab and first Muslim to participate in a space mission.

Saudi Arabia joined the Artemis founding member nations in 2023. Those founding nations include Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, UAE, the UK and the US.

In addition to operating the airlock, MBRSC will also provide engineering support for the life of the lunar space station. The airlock will allow crew and science research transfers to and from the habitable environment of Gateway’s pressurized crew modules to the vacuum of space. These transfers will support broader science in the deep space environment, as well as Gateway maintenance.

Gateway will support sustained exploration and research in deep space, provide a home for astronauts to live and work, including a staging point for lunar surface missions, and an opportunity to conduct spacewalks while orbiting the Moon.

NASA’s Artemis program is the most diverse and broad coalition of nations in human exploration in deep space. In collaboration with the Canadian Space Agency, European Space Agency, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and now the MBRSC, NASA will return humans to the lunar surface for scientific discovery and chart a path for the first human missions to Mars.

This latest cooperation on Gateway builds on NASA’s and the UAE’s previous human spaceflight collaboration.

In 2019, Hazzaa Al-Mansoori became the first Emirati to fly to space during a short mission to the International Space Station, during which he collaborated with NASA to perform experiments and educational outreach.

A second Emirati astronaut, Sultan Al-Neyadi, traveled to the space station in 2023 on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-6 mission, where he participated in the floating laboratory’s scientific research that advances human knowledge and improves life on Earth.

The UAE currently has two additional astronaut candidates in training at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. NASA has also worked with UAE on Mars research and human research and analog studies to support mutual exploration priorities.


Iraq hangs 11 convicted of ‘terrorism’: security, health sources

Iraq hangs 11 convicted of ‘terrorism’: security, health sources
Updated 24 April 2024
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Iraq hangs 11 convicted of ‘terrorism’: security, health sources

Iraq hangs 11 convicted of ‘terrorism’: security, health sources
  • Under Iraqi law, terrorism and murder offenses are punishable by death, and execution decrees must be signed by the president
  • A security source in Iraq’s southern Dhi Qar province told AFP that 11 “terrorists from the Daesh group” were executed by hanging at a prison in Nasiriyah

NASIRIYAH, Iraq: Iraqi authorities have executed at least 11 people convicted of “terrorism” this week, security and health sources said Wednesday, with rights group Amnesty International condemning an “alarming lack of transparency.”
Under Iraqi law, terrorism and murder offenses are punishable by death, and execution decrees must be signed by the president.
A security source in Iraq’s southern Dhi Qar province told AFP that 11 “terrorists from the Daesh group” were executed by hanging at a prison in the city of Nasiriyah, “under the supervision of a justice ministry team.”
A local medical source confirmed that the health department had received the bodies of 11 executed people.
They were hanged on Monday “under Article 4 of the anti-terrorism law,” the source added, requesting anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.
All 11 were from Salahaddin province and the bodies of seven had been returned to their families, the medical official said.
Iraqi courts have handed down hundreds of death and life sentences in recent years for people convicted of membership in “a terrorist group,” an offense that carries capital punishment regardless of whether the defendant had been an active fighter.
Iraq has been criticized for trials denounced by rights groups as hasty, with confessions sometimes obtained under torture.
Amnesty in a statement on Wednesday condemned the latest hangings for “overly broad and vague terrorism charges.”
It said a total of 13 men were executed on Monday, including 11 who had been “convicted on the basis of their affiliation to the so-called Daesh armed group.”
The two others, arrested in 2008, “were convicted of terrorism-related offenses under the Penal Code after a grossly unfair trial,” Amnesty said citing their lawyer.


Biden says Israel must allow aid to Palestinians ‘without delay’

Biden says Israel must allow aid to Palestinians ‘without delay’
Updated 24 April 2024
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Biden says Israel must allow aid to Palestinians ‘without delay’

Biden says Israel must allow aid to Palestinians ‘without delay’
  • “We’re going to immediately secure that aid and surge it,” Biden said
  • “Israel must make sure all this aid reaches the Palestinians in Gaza without delay“

WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden on Wednesday demanded that new humanitarian aid be allowed to immediately reach Palestinians in the Gaza Strip as key US ally Israel fights Hamas there.
“We’re going to immediately secure that aid and surge it... including food, medical supplies, clean water,” Biden said after signing a massive military aid bill for Israel and Ukraine, which also included $1 billion in humanitarian aid for Gaza.
“Israel must make sure all this aid reaches the Palestinians in Gaza without delay,” he said.
US-Israel relations have been strained by Israel’s conduct of the war in Gaza and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to send troops into the southern Gazan city of Rafah, where 1.5 million people are sheltering, many in makeshift encampments.
“This bill significantly — significantly — increases humanitarian assistance we’re sending to the innocent people of Gaza who are suffering badly,” Biden said.
“They’re suffering the consequences of this war that Hamas started, and we’ve been working intently for months to get as much aid to Gaza as possible.”


Israel hits Lebanese border towns with 14 missiles

Israel hits Lebanese border towns with 14 missiles
Updated 24 April 2024
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Israel hits Lebanese border towns with 14 missiles

Israel hits Lebanese border towns with 14 missiles
  • Hezbollah targets Israeli settlements in retaliation for Hanin civilian deaths
  • Hezbollah said it attacked the Shomera settlement with dozens of Katyusha rockets

BEIRUT: Clashes between Hezbollah and Israeli forces escalated sharply on Wednesday, the 200th day of conflict in southern Lebanon’s border area.

Israeli airstrikes created a ring of fire around Lebanese border towns, with at least 14 missiles hitting the area.

In the past two days, military activity in the border region has increased, with Hezbollah targeting areas in northern Acre for the first time in the conflict.

On Wednesday, Israeli strikes hit the outskirts of Aita Al-Shaab, Ramya, Jabal Balat, and Khallet Warda.

The Israeli military said it had destroyed a missile launching pad in Tair Harfa, and targeted Hezbollah infrastructure in Marqaba and Aita Al-Shaab.

Israeli artillery also struck areas of Kafar Shuba and Shehin “to eliminate a potential threat.”

Hezbollah also stepped up its operations, saying this was in retaliation for the “horrific massacre committed by the Israeli enemy in the town of Hanin, causing casualties and injuries among innocent civilians.”

A woman in her 50s and a 12-year-old girl, both members of the same family, were killed in the Israeli airstrike. Six other people were injured.

Hezbollah said it attacked the Shomera settlement with dozens of Katyusha rockets.

The group said it also targeted Israeli troops in Horsh Natawa, and struck the Al-Raheb site with artillery.

It also claimed to have killed and wounded Israeli soldiers in an attack on the Avivim settlement.

Israeli news outlets said that a rocket-propelled grenade hit a house in the settlement, setting the dwelling ablaze.

Hezbollah’s military media said that in the past 200 days of fighting with Israel, 1,998 operations had been carried out from Lebanon, Yemen and Iraq, including 1,637 staged by Hezbollah.


Egypt denies any discussions with Israel over Rafah offensive

Egypt denies any discussions with Israel over Rafah offensive
Updated 24 April 2024
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Egypt denies any discussions with Israel over Rafah offensive

Egypt denies any discussions with Israel over Rafah offensive
  • Egypt reiterates opposition to any move on Rafah
  • Warnings tell of expected losses and negative repercussions

CAIRO: Egypt has denied any discussions with Israel regarding an offensive in the Palestinian city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

Diaa Rashwan, the head of Egypt’s State Information Service, has refuted what has been claimed in one of the major American newspapers: that Egypt has discussed with the Israeli side its plans for an offensive in Rafah.

Rashwan has affirmed the Egyptian stance — announced several times by its political leadership — of complete opposition to the operation, which it is thought will lead to further massacres, massive human losses, and widespread destruction.

He added that Egypt’s repeated warnings have reached the Israeli side, from all channels, since Israel proposed carrying out a military operation in Rafah. These warnings tell of expected losses and the negative repercussions on the stability of the entire region.

Rashwan added that while Israel is contemplating its operation — which Egypt and most of the world and its international institutions stand against — Egyptian efforts since the beginning of the Israeli aggression had focused on reaching a ceasefire agreement and the exchange of prisoners and detainees.

He said Egypt was seeking the entry of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip, especially the north and Gaza City, and the evacuation of wounded and sick people for treatment outside the area.

Egypt has repeatedly opposed the displacement of Palestinians from Gaza and is warning against any military operation in Rafah.


UAE announces $544m for repairs after record rains

People walk through flood water caused by heavy rains, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, April 17, 2024. (Reuters)
People walk through flood water caused by heavy rains, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, April 17, 2024. (Reuters)
Updated 24 April 2024
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UAE announces $544m for repairs after record rains

People walk through flood water caused by heavy rains, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, April 17, 2024. (Reuters)
  • Wednesday's announcement comes more than a week after the unprecedented deluge lashed the desert country
  • “The situation was unprecedented in its severity but we are a country that learns from every experience,” Sheikh Mohammed said

DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates announced $544 million to repair the homes of Emirati families on Wednesday after last week’s record rains caused widespread flooding and brought the Gulf state to a standstill.
“We learned great lessons in dealing with severe rains,” said Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum after a cabinet meeting, adding that ministers approved “two billion dirhams to deal with damage to the homes of citizens.”
Wednesday’s announcement comes more than a week after the unprecedented deluge lashed the desert country, where it turned streets into rivers and hobbled Dubai airport, the world’s busiest for international passengers.
“A ministerial committee was assigned to follow up on this file... and disburse compensation in cooperation with the rest of the federal and local authorities,” said Sheikh Mohammed, who is also the ruler of Dubai, which was one of the worst hit of the UAE’s seven sheikhdoms.
The rainfall was the UAE’s heaviest since records began 75 years ago.
Cabinet ministers also formed a second committee to log infrastructure damage and propose solutions, Sheikh Mohammed said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.
“The situation was unprecedented in its severity but we are a country that learns from every experience,” he said.
The storm, which dumped up to two years’ worth of rain on the UAE, had subsided by last Wednesday.
But Dubai faced severe disruption for days later, with water-clogged roads and flooded homes.
Dubai airport canceled 2,155 flights, diverted 115 and did not return to full capacity until Tuesday.