UAE to send first astronaut to International Space Station in 2019

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(CNN)The United Arab Emirates has announced it will send an astronaut to the International Space Station (ISS) next year, becoming the latest nation to launch a citizen beyond Earth.

Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid took to Twitter with the initial announcement, with further details revealed via Russian space agency Roscosmos.
Roscosmos announced it had signed a preliminary agreement with the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre to send a UAE astronaut on a 10-day mission to the ISS in April 2019 aboard a Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft. The final agreement for what will be the UAE's first manned space mission is set to be made by the end of August this year.
    As of June 8, 232 people from 18 countries have visited the space station according to NASA -- none so far from a Middle Eastern nation.
    Earlier this month it was revealed the UAE Astronaut Programme had shortlisted 95 potential astronauts from over 4,000 applicants. Seventy-five of the shortlist are men and 20 are women.
    According to the June 6 release, further testing will conclude with the selection of four top candidates and two reserves, comprising the first UAE Astronaut Corps. Candidates will have to learn Russian and skills in robotics, navigation and medical aid. One of these candidates will make the trip to the ISS, "and the rest of the team will follow."
    It is unclear whether today's agreement marks any change to these plans. The Russian space agency states it will play a part in selecting and preparing the Emirati astronaut for the flight -- a process set to begin in August.