In January 2023, the Mauritius Research and Innovation Council (MRIC), operating under the aegis of the Ministry of Information Technology, Communication and Innovation, signed a Framework Agreement with the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) in view of developing new projects and programs in the space/satellite fields.
As a first step towards the implementation of this Framework Agreement, on the 11th of May 2023, the MRIC and the MBRSC jointly hosted a live conversation between the Emirati astronaut Dr Sultan Al Neyadi (who is currently on board the ISS) and students of the Republic of Mauritius from Sir Harilall Vaghjee Hall at Port-Louis.
Dr Sultan AlNeyadi has been making history in space by undertaking the longest Arab mission in space and carrying out the first spacewalk by an Arab, marking a significant milestone in Arab space exploration. His responsibilities on board the ISS span from conducting scientific experiments to performing maintenance work on the orbiting space laboratory.
The aim of this event was to encourage the young Mauritian minds who are space enthusiasts to dream big and pursue their ambitions in the realm of space and beyond, thus paving the way for future Mauritian Space Scientists.
The Acting President of the Republic of Mauritius, H.E. Mr. Marie Cyril Eddy Boissézon, G.O.S.K. was the Chief Guest for the event and asked the first question to the astronaut. The Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Tertiary Education, Science and Technology, Honourable Mrs Leela Devi Dookun-Luchoomun, the Minister of Information Technology, Communication and Innovation, Honourable Deepak Balgobin, and other Cabinet Ministers also attended the event.
During this special event, 15 Mauritian students from secondary schools around Mauritius and 1 in Rodrigues aged between 13 and 18, asked questions to the astronaut live. The students were curious to know about the astronaut’s life on board the ISS and his daily activities, the challenges of living in space and his recent spacewalk. The conversation lasted for around 20 minutes and was attended by 250 students from 59 schools and Universities in Mauritius. The event was also followed online by 80 students from secondary schools in Rodrigues and 20 students from Agalega. The conversation was livestreamed on NASA TV channel on YouTube and the MRIC YouTube Channel.
H.E. Salem Humaid Al Marri, Director General of the MBRSC addressed the audience and congratulated Mauritius for the progress in its space initiatives so far.
Hon. Deepak Balgobin addressed the audience highlighting the power of science and technology to connect people regardless of location and background. He encouraged students to pursue their dreams and strive to achieve the impossible.
The event was an unforgettable experience for space enthusiasts, and anyone interested in learning more about the ISS and space. This event ignited a passion for space activities and fostered a culture of curiosity, innovation, and exploration among Mauritian students.
The event was a major success at local, regional and international levels.