United Arab Emirates picks first Arab woman astronaut

Noura al-Matrooshi will train with NASA for future missions, while the space agency's Artemis program aims to put a woman and a person of color on the Moon.

Space launch (illustrative) (photo credit: NASA)
Space launch (illustrative)
(photo credit: NASA)
The United Arab Emirates announced the first-ever female Arab astronaut, who will be training with NASA for future space exploration missions, UAE Prime Minister and Vice President Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum announced Saturday via Twitter.
Noura al-Matrooshi is the first-ever Arab woman to become an astronaut, and was selected alongside Mohammed al-Mulla from a pool of over 4,000 potential candidates.
Matrooshi took to social media following the announcement to express her thanks and excitement about being chosen.
"I aim to work hard to script historical moments and achievements that will be etched forever in the memory of our people," she wrote.
According to Arab News, four astronauts have been selected from the UAE, with the other two being Sultan al-Neyadi and Hazza al-Mansoori, the latter being the first Emirati man to be launched into space.
Taking to Twitter, Mansoori and Neyadi both congratulated the two new astronauts.
"We await you in preparation for new missions and exchange our expertise," he wrote. "I wish that we succeed together in raising the name of our nation ever higher."

"Welcome to the team of the Emirates Astronaut Program!" Neyadi wrote, congratulating the two new astronauts.

This announcement comes on the heels of NASA administrator Steve Jurczyk stating on Friday that the agency plans to put a woman and a person of color (POC) on the Moon as part of its Artemis program.
Female astronauts have existed for years, with Soviet cosmonaut Valentia Tereshkova being the first woman in space in 1963, but they are still a minority among astronauts. 
In fact, the only people to ever land on the Moon have been white men.
The agency's new plan, Jurczyk explained in a statement, is in line with US President Joe Biden's aims of advancing equality.
This comes as part of Biden's discretionary funding request, which resulted in allocating $24.7 billion in funding. Further details of the president's broader budget are expected to be released in the coming months.

Multiple women and POC, including some women of color, were announced in December as part of the Artemis program, including American astronaut Jessica Meir, who is of Jewish-Iraqi descent.

NASA's announcement comes as the agency marked what would have been the 100th birthday of Mary W. Jackson, NASA's first woman-of-color engineer – who, the agency noted, "continues to inspire the next generation of trailblazers."

And with the latest announcements from both the UAE and NASA, this next generation is set to make some big accomplishments.