Lebanese Physicist Woman Among Two Finalists for a Trip to Space!

Rana Nicolas is a member of the International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE), and also a regular reviewer in the Plasmonics Journal, and the Nanospectroscopy Journal. She has co-authored many scientific articles in her field. Among 500 participants, she has proven to be one of the 12 candidates chosen to compete in the Dubai TV show “Astronaut.” 


“Astronaut” is a new ten-part series in which 12 men and women from all over the Middle East go through the most extreme and demanding selection process reserved for real-life astronaut candidates.

The 12, who come from different backgrounds as pilots, scientists, and explorers, share the same passion for space exploration. They passed through an evaluation process based on criteria set by the space agencies, not to mention their experiences and talents reflective of their dedication to achieving their goals. Among 500 participants, Rana Nicholas was among the selected few.

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During the competition, they were under the watchful eyes of the former astronaut and Commander of the International Space Station, Chris Hadfield, as well as the Head Operations Management of UAE astronaut program at MBRSC, Saud Karmustaji, and the clinical psychologist, Dr. Luma Naccache. 

These experts are the decision-makers on who leaves and who remains in the competition until the announcement of the ultimate candidate who can prove to have what it takes to be an astronaut.

Rana, who returned a year ago to Lebanon after 7 years in France, dreams of a better country. By participating in the show Astronaut, she is taking her first step in realizing her dreams.


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In an interview with Annahar, Rana explains: “There is nothing impossible, we just have to believe in what we can achieve without fear or hesitation, and this is only the beginning.”

She goes on to explain the committee and what it is made up of: Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield who was the first Canadian to walk in space and spent a long time at the International Space Station. Saud Karamstaji, director of the Strategic Communications Department at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center, and Luma Naqash, a specialist in clinical psychology.


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Even though Rana did not win the competition, she was still among the last two finalists who got so close to the dream of becoming the first Lebanese woman to walk in space!

In an Instagram post, Rana wrote: “Participating in ” the Astronauts” TV show was an amazing experience. Performing all those challenges at Yuri Gagarin space center in Russia and at Kennedy space center in NASA was surreal. The Arab world needs more educational programs like this!”


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Rana still carries the dream of becoming an astronaut in the near future and making her country proud, prouder than it already is of her. She knows it is a long road, but she is on the right track and she does not look like she is quitting any time soon.

Maybe on her way to space, Rana could take some of our lovely politicians and drop them off “accidentally” on Jupiter. One can only hope.


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