A BRIGHTON University graduate is aiming to blast off to infinity and beyond after being selected as an astronaut.

Sultan Saif Muftah Hamad Al Niyadi, who graduated in electronics and communication in 2004, is one of the first two astronauts chosen by the United Arab Emirates in co-operation with the Russian space agency to embark on the mission.

They were selected from 4,000 men and women who were tested for the UAE Astronaut Programme.

One will fly into space next April as the first astronaut from the Emirates on a ten-day mission as part of the Russian space mission to the International Space Station aboard the Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft. The second will serve as a replacement.

Professor Debra Humphris, University of Brighton vice-chancellor, said: “This is a wonderful achievement by Sultan Saif Muftah Hamad Al Niyadi and we are so proud of our graduate and will be watching his endeavours as an astronaut with great interest.

“This is a rare achievement and one that reflects a huge amount of dedication and hard work. On behalf of the community of the University of Brighton I offer our congratulations and wish him and the United Arab Emirates the best of luck for the flights into space.”

Sultan was awarded a BEng (Hons) electronics with communications degree 14 years ago.

Sam Davies, the university’s director of philanthropy, said: “We take great pride in the achievements of all of our graduates in their professional lives after they leave us and how they translate their academic knowledge to contribute to so many important issues. We very much congratulate Sultan on his selection.”

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice- president, prime minister and ruler of Dubai, also congratulated the astronauts Sultan and Hazza Ali Abdan Al Mansouri.

He said: “Hazza and Sultan represent a new stage for the United Arab Emirates youth and raise the aspirations of new generations after them.

“Our dreams embrace space. We have aspirations without limits and when given the opportunity, we can reach for the stars.”

The two astronauts completed six phases of medical, psychological and advanced tests and a series of interviews, in co-operation with NASA, as well as advanced medical tests by the Russian space agency.

Sultan, 37, also has a PhD in data leakage prevention technology from Griffith University in Australia, as well as a Masters degree in Information and Networks Security from the same university.