How Sara Al Amiri is putting the UAE in the asteroid belt

Description by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast

When Sarah Al Amiri was growing up in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), space wasn’t what she—or really anyone else—focused on. If you grew up in the US or Russia, where space exploration was embedded in the country’s cultural fabric, this would be taken for granted. But in the United Arab Emirates, a country where Amiri was just 16 when he was born, space was not a priority.

„When you grow up in America, you already have those space programs,” Al Amiri told The Daily Beast. „We didn’t even have a semblance of that when I was growing up. It was something you thought of as a hobby — not a career choice.”

Ironically, she not only became the Minister of Science, but also the first Chairperson of the United Arab Emirates Space Agency (UAESA). She deserves it too. After all, she helped lead UAESA’s Mars Hope Mission The project’s scientific lead is for the Red Planet.

Since then, Amiri has helped guide UAESA to even more ambitious „moonshot” projects—including going to the moon. In April, the agency sent a rover to the lunar surface with Japanese private space company IceSpace. During the lander Ended up hitting the moon-And, with that, UAESA’s Rover-Amiri said the mission redoubled the agency’s determination to try again and go further.

Amiri stands on stage during the launch of the Mars Hope mission on May 6, 2015 in Dubai.


Amiri stands on stage during the launch of the Mars Hope mission on May 6, 2015 in Dubai. Since then, Amiri has helped guide UAESA to even more ambitious „moonshot” projects—including going to the moon.


The UAESA has partnered with the University of Colorado Boulder to launch a mission to the asteroid belt in 2028 and is sure to have their mission on their next moonshot. The asteroid belt is even more distant (sitting between Mars and Jupiter) and is a red planet And The team must contend with the hostile and ever-changing dynamics of the belt.

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Amiri sat down with The Daily Beast for a quick chat about asteroid belt mission, the boom in commercial space programs and whether or not he thinks aliens exist — and have already visited Earth.

(This interview has been edited for clarity and length)

While other space agencies seem more focused on establishing a presence on the Moon and Mars, UAESA’s next big project is the asteroid belt. why there

We were putting together what we wanted to do after we got to Mars, and we were like, „What’s next?” We asked. Is it going to be around big moonshots as a catalyst for change and change from the country [like the Mars Hope mission]? Is it going to drive opportunities within the business space?

The asteroid belt made sense in terms of the future of space. We can research future human exploration and space resources Origin of water-based asteroids. At the same time, it stretched our technical capability to a certain point where we could use parts of the Emirates Mars design and add new developments. It creates an interesting environment for developing scientific and technical skills. So, it hits a nice sweet spot for scientific ability and technical skills.

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Any plans for the next big moonshot after this?

At this point you get to the point where you’re thinking about budget and risk delivery, so I’m not open minded about that. [laughs] For me, it’s all about consistency There is Will be developed. One is a sustained study assignment, where we can turn two or three study assignments and build them together. Two is a Very much A strong commercial space industry providing spacecraft for Earth observation purposes and at rapid speeds.

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And I want to see the ripple effects in our ecosystem in our other sectors as well. We are learning a lot from principles implemented in the aerospace sector, such as biotech, in which we invest heavily. Space has therefore had an interesting ripple effect, not only in the space industry in the UAE, but also in terms of our aspirations to advance our other industrial sectors in the country.

I think it’s interesting that you go back to the commercial aspect and the opportunities for the space program.

This is a global feature because commercial space is underutilized, and many government agencies like NASA and other space agencies around the world have all started relying on outsourcing a lot of their needs to third parties. This frees up resources for more sophisticated innovative technologies. And it’s a natural progression. This means that the global space industry is healthy and can create a symbiotic ecological relationship with the public and the private.

Can this private Mars mission find the aliens before they are lost forever?

With the growth of private space companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin, we’re seeing more business opportunities in space—often backed by private companies. How do you envision the future of UAESA’s partnership with private companies?

We work well with the private sector today and we also work with people who want to start their business in the private sector. For example, some of the individuals who were part of our previous missions have now started their own companies, and they are now developing the mission concept of the lander on our mission to the asteroid belt.

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We have enabled some organizations to develop programs to monitor the Earth—particularly to monitor and combat climate change. We have also worked on developing programs to ensure that we engage more companies to help build our spacecraft. This can come from harnesses, engine parts, and more.

I have to ask: With all the recent UFO sightings that seem to have gone crazy around the world, do you believe in extraterrestrials?

Yes, I do. It doesn’t make sense that we are the only creatures living there.

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However, do you think these UFOs are aliens watching us?

If you factor in statistical regression, and if you factor in the timeline of the universe, where we are in that timeline, the formation of planets and the distance we have to travel to get to us… I don’t know. There is no technology that can come to Earth. It is in the context of time with the understanding of evolution and our understanding of what life is like.

So I don’t know if they were alien interventions – but given the vastness of space and time, logic says that it would take a lot for an alien race to come to Earth, regardless of which solar system they came from. So yes, there probably are aliens, but some of that depends on our understanding of what life is.

A life completely different from what we understand or what we may refer to as life. At the same time, our lifetime [as humans] The effect is non-existent over large spans of cosmic time. So you don’t know where the aliens have been and what time it’s been there – and for how long.

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