UAE Launches Phase Two of Analog Study with Emirati Crew at NASA's HERA Habitat

AlRomaithi, alongside primary crew members Jason Lee, Stephanie Navarro, and Piyumi Wijesekara, embarked on a 45-day mission within the HERA facility.

The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) has embarked on the second phase of its groundbreaking Analog Programme, marking a significant milestone in the UAE’s ambitious space exploration endeavors. Emirati crew member Shareef AlRomaithi commenced phase two of the analog study by entering the Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA) habitat at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, USA, at 2 AM (UAE time) on Saturday.

AlRomaithi, alongside primary crew members Jason Lee, Stephanie Navarro, and Piyumi Wijesekara, embarked on a 45-day mission within the HERA facility. The unique three-story habitat replicates space-like conditions on Earth, providing a controlled environment to study crew members’ adaptation to isolation, confinement, and remote conditions akin to those encountered during long-duration space missions.

During their simulated journey in HERA, the team will engage in a spectrum of scientific research and operational tasks. This includes a virtual reality “walk” on the surface of Mars and the management of escalating communication delays with the Mission Control Center, simulating the challenges encountered when nearing Mars. The crew is slated to exit the facility on June 24.

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Salem Humaid AlMarri, Director General of MBRSC, highlighted the significance of the UAE Analog Programme in advancing the nation’s strategic objectives and solidifying its stature as a frontrunner in space technology. AlMarri emphasized the meticulous preparation of Emirati cadres for the rigors of deep space exploration, positioning the UAE as a key player in the global space arena and inspiring future generations to push the boundaries of human potential.

The second phase of the UAE Analog Programme forms part of a comprehensive four-phase analog study comprising 18 human health studies on Earth. These studies aim to unravel the physiological, behavioral, and psychological responses of crew members under conditions mirroring those anticipated on future lunar and Martian exploration missions.

Moreover, the UAE assumes a pivotal role in these groundbreaking research initiatives, with scientific contributions from esteemed institutions such as the United Arab Emirates University (UAEU), Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences (MBRU), and American University of Sharjah (AUS) across all phases of the analog study.