Contrast in Egypt over the “first female astronaut”

Government agencies awarded the title … and researchers refuse to “exaggerate”

Only minutes passed after a statement issued by Egyptian government institutions, including the Egyptian Space Agency, in which it congratulated the Egyptian engineer, Sarah Sabry, for her journey on the Blue Origin company’s flight, to be the “first Egyptian astronaut” , until the Egyptian social network sites were buzzing with controversy, Amidst the refusal of researchers to introduce the agency this title.

In a statement issued on Saturday, the Egyptian Space Agency “expressed its pride and support for the engineer, Sarah Sabry, to be the first Egyptian astronaut to travel into space for the first time, accompanied by 5 people of the United States of America, Portugal and the United Kingdom.” Which should have been issued by an official scientific institution.

Sabry received her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 2016 from the American University in Cairo, with a major in mechatronics, in addition to a minor in biology and chemistry, and in 2020 she earned a master’s degree in biomedical engineering from Politecnico di Milano in Italy acquired .

Ahmed Fathi, a researcher specializing in information technology, wrote a long comment on his Facebook page, in which he revealed the truth of the trip Sabri participated in, and expressed his surprise at the exaggerations of the media and official institutions , although the engineer Sarah himself appeared in a television interview with the media Amr Adib. In it, she stated that she would “travel as a tourism, not a scientific expedition, and that the duration of the trip would not exceed just 11 minutes.”

Fathy explained that the Blue Origin company, which organizes the trip through which Sarah will travel, is a company that specializes in “tourism” to space, and the trip in which the Egyptian engineer will take part bears the number 22, and the previous trip that wore. the number (21) was in June (June).

He explained that Sarah will travel to space, but as a tourist and not a scientist, because the trip has nothing to do with science, and her participants in the trip have nothing to do with space, and they are (a director) of a communication company, a traveler, a businessman and a sports YouTuber), and anyone who owns the price of the trip can travel like him. ».

And Fathi posted the link through which to book this trip.

Ali Abdo, Technical Advisor of the Nuclear Technology Group “Halliburton” in Houston, USA, and the former founding director of the Nanotechnology Program in Zewail City, interacted with this comment. From exaggerating and blowing to humble acts and they make legends and they raise owners to the level of the supernatural, and it is one of the destroyers of nations, because it is a self-narcotic drug, which makes us feel that we are still alive and is healthy, even with gross negligence.”

He added: “It is necessary to put things in perspective, to evaluate oneself objectively, and to give each person his or her destiny, so that we can solve our problems and develop ourselves and our societies.”

Mohamed Ali Hassan, a space researcher and a former expert of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), criticized the Egyptian Space Agency’s statement in a sharp tone, telling Asharq Al-Awsat: “It is a shame for the Egyptian Space Agency to issue such a statement because They must have kept in mind that one day we would have our first real astronaut, and then how would they justify their description of Sarah as the first astronaut.”

He continued: “The truth is that Sarah is the first Egyptian space tourist, and she is not an astronaut in the first place, and her seat on the tourist trip was carried by the Space Organization for Humanity, and the flight time is a few minutes, including less than 3 minutes near the Karman line (100 km from the surface of the sea),” And the rest of the minutes between the ascent with a missile and the landing of the tourists with a capsule carrying hang parachutes.

He concluded: “It is a pity that the Egyptian Space Agency cannot distinguish between space tourists and astronauts.”

Others tried to capture the positive side of this space flight, although they also objected to the exaggerations, including Dr. Makki Habib, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the American University in Cairo, and one of the professors who taught Sarah at the American University in Cairo.

Habib told Asharq Al-Awsat: “There are two types of students, one of whom is distinguished in grades and appreciation, and the other has another type of distinction, which lies in his ambition and daring, and Sarah is one of the last type. “

And he continues, “I was very happy when I heard that she would take part in a space trip, which was not surprising because I knew her personal qualities, but I stopped short of describing her as the first female astronaut , because she won’t, for example, undertake a scientific mission with the International Space Agency until she gets this title.”

He believes that “celebrating the participation of an Egyptian girl in such space flights can inspire others to take an interest in scientific research and space.”

Dr. agrees. Ashraf Shaker, head of the Astronomy Division at the National Institute for Astronomical and Geophysical Research, agreed with the previous opinion. advantage”.

He added: “We should have put the participation of the Egyptian engineer in this context, without exaggeration, especially since we have Egyptian models that we can be proud of, instead of being proud of something that is not real.” An Egyptian named Dr. Muhammad Reda Medawar, the first Egyptian head of the Helwan Observatory in 1934.”

Sabry’s biography bears a shift from her studies of mechanical engineering to the field of space, as she helped establish the space ambassador program with the Egyptian Space Agency, and continues to work with the Egyptian Space Agency on ‘ working on a number of projects, including the construction of the first analogue research station in Africa.

Ahmed Soliman, an Egyptian researcher at Caltech Institute in America and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of the US Space Agency (NASA), for his part told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the event has been greatly exaggerated, either by claiming that she an astronaut, or by excessive interest in celebration or celebration. criticism.”

He adds: “The reality of everything will become clear with the launch of the space flight. All that space tourism requires is a seat ticket, and everything else is luxuries; Because the flight reaches a small height and descends again, and the case does not require any possibilities and conditions.”

On the other hand, the Egyptian Space Agency today published a statement in which it responded to criticism received on its Facebook page, saying: “The agency is proud of the engineer Sarah, who was chosen by the company among a very large number of applicants.” She explained, “Under her nickname as an astronaut is Blue Origin, as she is the first Egyptian woman to visit space, and this event has not happened before, and we did not mention that she is on a technical mission not going to space.” She added: “We are proud to publish the advertisement for the daughter of Egypt, and we want to make it clear that the agency congratulates.”

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