Russia’s State Space Corporation is in talks with Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey over the possibility of sending their astronauts into space onboard the Soyuz human spaceflight programme, Dmitry Rogozin, director of Roscosmos, told an international forum dubbed “Baikonur is the cradle of world cosmonautics” on Tuesday, according to a report by the Russian News Agency.
This disclosure follows an earlier announcement made last month by the Head of the Egyptian Space Agency, Mohamed El-Qousy, during a visit by officials of the United Arab Emirates Space Agency to the Egyptian Space City.
El-Qousy stated that Cairo is planning to send an Egyptian astronaut to the International Space Station but did not disclose further details about the plan.
The official visit to Cairo by UAE officials follows in the wake of the return of Hazza Al-Mansouri, UAE’s first astronaut who spent eight days in space onboard the International Space Station.
Al-Mansouri joined a crew of astronauts aboard the Soyuz MS-15 spaceflight launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on September 25.
Roscosmos is looking to sign up more countries to get their first astronaut experience on Russia’s spaceflight programme. Going by Rogozin’s disclosure, Egypt’s bid to join the comity of nations with human spaceflight experience is not unrealistic.
“Earlier, it was believed that with the advent of American spacecraft, there would be no need for Soyuz spacecraft anymore, but this turned out to be exactly the opposite. And now we see that the Energia corporation, Roscosmos and our Kazakh colleagues have received new requests and seen a new interest from countries seeking to get their first experience on a spaceflight from Baikonur,” Rogozin said.
“At the moment, we are in talks with other potential participants on this project. These are Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and many other countries. I’m sure that Baikonur will become a home sweet home for preparing nestlings from these countries, who will be raised to ensure their first spaceflight,” he adds.
Joseph Ibeh is a Mandela Washington Fellow and Senior Analyst at Space in Africa. His experience spans industry research and market analysis with a focus on African-grown NewSpace companies, commercial space industry, national space programmes and real-life application of space science for sustainable development in Africa.