Inspiring the next generation of astronauts


13 Feb 2018


Christiane Amanpour

Sarah al-Amiri

This segment discusses past and future astronauts, beginning with Sulṭān bin Salman, who became the first Arab, the first Muslim, and the first member of royalty in space in 1985.  Farouk El Baz, who worked on the Apollo moon missions, recalls being proud to see an Arab in space, describing the Earth in Arabic.  Christiane Amanpour suggests that “his story became a symbol, what people in the region could do, and inspired a whole generation to look at space and science.”

Sarah al-Amiri discusses how the Muhammad bin Rashid Space Centre in the UAE strives to inspire a generation into “thinking about science, thinking about discovery, and thinking about challenging themselves every single day.”

One person who was thus inspired was Alia al-Mansoori, the 2017 “Genes in Space” winner.  She sent an experiment into space, but her goal is to be an astronaut and travel to Mars.

People who appear in the segment:  Farouk El Baz, Director, Center for Remote Sensing, Boston University; Sarah Al Amiri, Science Lead, Emirates Mars Mission; Jörg Matthias Determann, Author, Space Science and the Arab World; Alia Al Mansoori, winner of “Genes in Space” contest.

This segment is part three on the Mars Mission in the United Arab Emirates from the series Inside the Middle East.  It was created by CNN in association with the Misk Foundation, and originally aired February 13, 2018.


Islam:  There is little here about Islam, but it is within the bounds of what Muslims have historically understood as acceptable.

Science:  The scientific discussion here is accepted by contemporary scientists.

History:  There is insufficient historical material on which to base an evaluation.