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Palestinian NASA engineer: Getting to Mars easier than returning to Gaza

April 22, 2021 at 11:02 am

Loay Elbasyouni [Loay Elbasyouni/Facebook]

Palestinian from Gaza Loay Elbasyouni has helped American space agency NASA successfully fly a small helicopter on Mars.

Ingenuity Mars Helicopter flew over the red planet two days ago, in a feat which NASA says represents the first powered, controlled flight by an aircraft on another planet.

Elbasyouni, who was born and raised in Gaza, left the Strip in 2000 “before the Second Intifada” when he was 20 to complete his studies in the US after he won a scholarship.

“For me as a kid I was almost dreaming to become an aerospace engineer, but I decided that it was not a thing for me because I figured Palestine doesn’t have a space programme, so it wasn’t an easy journey,” he told Channel 4 News.

He likened his journey from Gaza to the US to “Mission Impossible”.

Elbasyouni has not returned to his family since he left them in 2000, he said:

It’s really hard to get into Gaza without putting my career at risk. If I go in there, I might get stuck.

“With the Mars situation it’s science that determines things, with science we can calculate everything and predict everything as much as we can, and we stick to our hopes and beliefs and our mathematical proof. But when it comes to situations of politics involving politics it depends on people’s opinions and that’s unpredictable,” he added.

READ: NASA’s Palestinian engineer gets ready to make history once again