At the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, Expedition 48-49 backup crewmembers Peggy Whitson of NASA (left), Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos (center) and Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency (right) arrive for Soyuz qualification exams May 26, 2016. (Xinhua photo)
DUBAI, Sept. 3 (Xinhua) -- The United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced on Monday that the first two UAE astronauts will join Russia's space mission in 2019, UAE state news agency WAM reported.
The two candidates, Hazza Ali Abdan Al Mansouri and Sultan Saif Hamad Al Neyadi, were selected among 4,022 young people who have been tested for the UAE Astronaut Program, which aims to qualify and prepare UAE astronauts for scientific missions in outer space.
One astronaut will fly to space in April 2019 on a 10-day mission as part of the Russian space mission to the International Space Station aboard the Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft.
The second will serve as a replacement.
Earlier in June, the UAE and the Russian space agency Roscosmos State Corporation for Space Activities signed an agreement to send the first UAE astronaut to orbit.
The astronaut will participate in scientific tests and research programs as part of Russia's space mission to the International Space Station aboard the Soyuz-MS spacecraft.
"Hazza and Sultan represent a new stage for the UAE youth and will raise the aspirations of new generations," said UAE Vice President Sheikh Mohammd bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
Al Mansouri and Al Niyadi won the competition after completing six phases of medical, psychological and advanced tests and a series of interviews in cooperation with NASA as well as advanced medical tests by Roscosmos.
Thirty-four-year-old Al Mansouri, who holds a bachelor's degree in aviation science and military aviation from the Khalifa bin Zayed Air College, has 14 years of military aviation experience.
According to WAM, Al Mansouri qualified to be an aeronautical pilot in 2016 and now pilots an F-16B60 aircraft.
Al Niyadi, 37, has a doctor's degree in data leakage prevention technology from Griffith University in Australia and a bachelor's degree in electronics and communication engineering from Brighton University in Britain.