More than 4,000 Emirati hopefuls have applied for the position…

It’s no doubt a dream that many of us shared as kids, to strap on a spacesuit and experience zero gravity as we look back at our big blue planet.

Well, that dream is now one step closer to reality for more than 4,000 Emiratis who it have applied to become the UAE’s first astronaut, it was revealed by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre on Monday.

Registration for the programme closed at the end of March and saw a total of 4,022 applicants aged between 17 and 67-years old, around a third of which were women. The applicants come from a range of 38 different fields of work, showing just how diverse the pool will be when the final selection is made later this year.

When HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, first announced the country’s astronaut programme back in December 2017, he encouraged young Emiratis to register, saying “On this day, a new chapter in our history begins, the people of the UAE will break barriers, there is no power strong enough to stand in the way of those who believe nothing is impossible.”

A shortlist of suitable candidates will be selected by a committee and those who make it through to the next phase will be subject to a series of medical and psychometric tests, as well as an interview process.

Ultimately, four finalists will be chosen to form part of a team of UAE Astronauts expected to head into space by 2021.

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