Posted on January 19, 2020

Students, researchers and science enthusiasts attending the latest session of the Science Book Forum—a Qatar National Library initiative to encourage science reading—learned about the skills, education, expertise and training required of astronauts before they can be part of mankind’s incredible voyage into space.

The 18 January event enhanced participants’ understanding of the learning path astronauts have to follow, and the years of study and hard work the field demands. This rigor is not surprising, given that astronauts have a crucial role in voyaging to space to help us better understand the universe. The discussions also touched on the importance of STEM learning in pursuing a career in this field. Offering inspiration and motivation to those determined to pursue their career ambitions in space exploration, the forum highlighted the vital contributions of astronauts to the study of the physical phenomena of the Earth's atmosphere, which uses data gathered during scientific flights.

Dr. Jörg Matthias Determan, Assistant Professor of History at Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar and author of Space Science and the Arab World: Astronauts, Observatories and Nationalism in the Middle East, said: “My book is about Arab astronauts so, of course, I wanted to hear an Arab astronaut speak. Dr. Essam Heggy gave a wonderful introduction about his work, and in what was a great lecture, Akram Abdellatif managed to give something to everyone: children, adults and those with different interests. I think this was a wonderful event, with so many people asking questions and demonstrating their passion for the topic.” 

Ismail Abudlwahab, an MIT student who attended the lecture, said: “The forum was very inspiring and relevant to my interests in space and science, being a member of the Astronomy Club at Qatar University. In the presentation, I learned firsthand from an Arab astronaut about the qualifications that are needed to work in the field of space exploration, and I now have a great deal of information useful to my aspirations to become an aviation engineer for NASA.”