01:42 GMT28 January 2020
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is planning to buy a Soyuz spacecraft and launch services from Russia to send two domestic astronauts to orbit on one mission. The flight will be possible in two years, Sergey Krikalev, director of manned spaceflight at Russian State Space Corporation Roscosmos, said in an interview with Sputnik.

    "Within the framework of the future flight program, the UAE plans a specialized manned mission for which a spacecraft is required. They consider buying a Soyuz spacecraft from us, that is, two seats in it, because according to the Russian legislation, a Soyuz commander must be a Russian citizen. The flight may be possible no earlier than in two years", Krikalev said.

    READ MORE: 4,000 UAE Citizens Applied to Become Country’s First Astronauts — Space Centre

    According to Krikalev, if the UAE signs a contract with Roscosmos, an additional Soyuz spacecraft will be manufactured, as it cannot be part of the Russian manned program for delivering Russian cosmonauts to the International Space Station.

    Roscosmos' spokesman Vladimir Ustimenko said last month that the first UAE astronaut could travel to the International Space Station on a Soyuz spacecraft in late September.

    The flight, which Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin announced last December, was initially scheduled for April 2019, but it was postponed due to the Soyuz MS-10 manned spacecraft's failed launch last October.

    In September 2018, two UAE candidates, Hazza Mansouri and Sultan Niyadi, started their training at Russia's Gagarin Research and Test Cosmonaut Training Center (GCTC) in the Moscow Region.

    READ MORE: Russia-UAE Have Bright Future in Energy, Space Technology Cooperation


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