The United States and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) signed an agreement for a joint effort on space exploration. NASA enlisted the help of one of the newest space agencies in the world to help in its effort to send a manned mission to the Red Planet by 2030s.
The agreement was signed in Abu Dhabi last Sunday by UAE Space Agency (UAESA) chairman Dr. Khalifa Al Romaithi and NASA administrator Charles Bolden.
The partnership allows the two countries to collaborate in aeronautics research as well as in the exploration and usage of airspace and outer space for peaceful intents.
The agreement's first priority is the exploration of Mars. The UAESA aims to send an unmanned probe to the Red Planet by 2021.
Apart from sharing aeronautics research, the agreement also enables the two countries to share scientific instruments and, if possible, even spacecraft.
"I am confident this new framework agreement with the UAE Space Agency will help advance this journey, as well as other endeavors in the peaceful exploration of outer space," said Bolden.
The NASA administrator added that technical experts from both space agencies are already discussing several areas of shared interest. Bolden expressed confidence that the two agencies will continue to collaborate in the succeeding years through their shared interest in space exploration, discovery and aeronautics.
Al Romaithi explained that collaboration and cooperation are vital to the UAESA. This is because the young space agency believes that the best way to speed up space technology developments as well as the UAE space sector is to work together with international partners.
He added that the space sector inside the UAE is an economic development catalyst. It also promotes diversification and creates more job opportunities for the people.
The space sector within the UAE also enables the country's engineers and scientists to become industry leaders. All of these bring great benefits to the people's daily lives.
As for NASA, the recent partnership with the UAESA happened in the middle of a debate in Congress about the expenses for the manned mission to Mars. The debate also comes with questions whether Mars exploration should be NASA's first priority.
Representative Dana Rohrabacher of California raised in last month's hearing that the country has a lot of other things it could do in space such as the space debris cleanup and the development of a system that can protect the planet from the impact of asteroids.
Rohrabacher stressed the importance of ensuring that "we don't waste dollars on things that we don't accomplish anything with."
Photo: U.S. Department of Agriculture | Flickr