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Reach for the Stars: Emirati Teen’s Experiment Launched into Space

Alia Al Mansoori

An Emirati teen watched her experiment blast off into space at NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida last month after winning the 2017 Genes in Space UAE competition.

Alia Al Mansoori, 15, beat 109 competitors with her proposal to study how exposure to space affects the health of live organisms at a cellular level.

Her experiment was flown into space by the Space X Falcon 9 rocket and will now be tested by astronauts on the International Space Station.

“I literally can’t believe that my experiment is now in space,” she told The National. “All the months of effort was worthwhile.”

 Al Monsoori’s experiment includes testing human genomes in space, which if successful, will help astronauts protect themselves from radiation when travelling to deep flight destinations such as Mars - a planet the 15-year-old hopes one day to conquer.

“I’ve always wanted to be an astronaut, she said. “When I go to Mars, hopefully I’ll be taking an Emirati flag with me and I’ll be planting it on the planet.”

Al Monsoori has been lauded for her intelligence and perseverance, which shined through despite her young age.

“Alia has been a very good role model by doing what is her passion, and I have no doubt she will be an astronaut in the near future, ”Dr Fatima Al Aydaroos from the UAE Space Agency told The National.  

Not only did Al Monsoori get to see her experiment launched into space, she also visited the launch pad where Apollo 11 took off for the Moon and saw spaceships being built at the Boeing workshop.

The Dubai native has been well supported by her home country and got to meet HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces after her win. 

She was also congratulated by HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein on Instagram who called her “a real inspiration” for her work.

“It was a life changing moment, Al Monsoori wrote in an Instagram post. “The second the engines fired, the ground rumbled and the sound waves filled us with excitement. The rocket boosted into space with my experiment in it. After months of hard work and effort the next phase of my project starts! … The journey doesn't end here, this is where it all begins!” 

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