UAE - The UAE's first astronaut, Hazzaa Al Mansoori, returned safely from the International Space Station on Thursday, his entire mission is considered as a new beginning in the country's foray into space innovations and technologies.

Expo 2020 Dubai will host space-related attractions. A number of country pavilions at the mega event will also have a strong focus on space exploration, with an array of related attractions in its Mobility Pavilion, in which interwoven throughout the visitor experience is the story of Dubai, and the role the emirate and the UAE have played in connecting people on a global scale. This now extends into the solar system through Al Mansoori's journey into space, the UAE's Hope Mission to Mars and other Emirati space milestones.

Marjan Faraidooni, chief pavilions and exhibitions officer at Expo 2020 Dubai, said: "Hazzaa Al Mansoori's historic achievement in becoming the first Emirati in space sets new heights for our nation's achievements. Throughout history, we have played a pivotal role in the progress of global mobility. Our exciting space ambitions are the next stage of this journey, with preparations already well underway to chart a course to Mars. This all demonstrates the UAE's ambitious, progressive vision and technical excellence - ideals that also underpin Expo 2020 Dubai."

International participants who will present out-of-this-world content include the UK pavilion, inspired by a project from the late scientist Stephen Hawking in which he pondered how humanity could express itself to an extraterrestrial civilisation. The pavilion will offer a glimpse into the future, exploring everything from the commercialisation of space to creating exoskeletons for the disabled.

The China pavilion, meanwhile, will showcase the country's 'FAST' radio satellite, whose functions include the detection of interstellar signals from alien life. It is the world's largest such radio satellite, with a diameter of 500 metres, and sits in the country's Guizhou province. Luxembourg, meanwhile, has agreed to work with the UAE on space exploration and will feature space content in its pavilion, which will repurposed as a permanent space centre after the Expo.

Space exploration and aerospace innovations will be a central focus of the Canada pavilion, while the Belarus pavilion will showcase Belarussian innovations in space research and the Russia pavilion will include prominent space content. Other nations are expected to announce their space-related content in the coming months.

Startups revving up

Al Mansoori's trip has further opened avenues for research in space and the startup community is open to encourage young entrepreneurs wanting to take a leap while tapping innovations in the space sector.

Vijay Tirathrai, managing director of Techstars, said: "Whilst we have not yet invested in startups in the UAE, I think it's only a matter of time we will tap into the scientific and engineering talent pool in the region for innovation in new frontier-related technologies."

Courtney Powell, chief operating officer of 500 Startups, said: "We're excited to see the incredible energy created by Al Mansoori's space mission drive even greater focus and opportunity for investment in space-related startups in the UAE."

Mena-focused investment fund partner Sharif El Badawi said: "The UAE Astronaut Programme through the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre is a very exciting initiative for the country and helps drive the culture of innovation and technological advancement that we are truly excited about."

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