Dubai - It was the realisation of the dream of the father of the nation, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and the vision of the leadership.
It has been a year since the first Emirati astronaut Hazzaa AlMansoori embarked on an eight-day mission to the International Space Station. At exactly 5.57pm (UAE time) on September 25 last year, AlMansoori - on board Russian spacecraft Soyuz MS-15 - blasted off to the stars from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
It was a historic milestone that heralded a new dawn for the Arab world and its space sector, a sheer moment of Arab pride, as the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) puts it.
It was the realisation of the dream of the father of the nation, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and the vision of the leadership.
Yousuf Hamad AlShaibani, director-genera of the MBRSC, said: "Today, we are celebrating a memorable anniversary from the UAE's growing list of achievements. We express our pride on this national milestone, which has become part of an inspiring success story from the region. The launch of the first Emirati astronaut in space has signalled the arrival of the UAE in regional and global list of spacefaring nations."
Out in space, AlMansoori conducted 16 scientific experiments in cooperation with international space agencies. He studied the reactions of vital indicators of the human body in microgravity, as well as fluid dynamics in space, among others.
AlMansoori also conducted experiments involving schools in the UAE, as part of the MBRSC's Science in Space initiative. He also seized the opportunity to inspire young space dreamers by interacting with them in a video conference.
Astronauts AlMansoori and Sultan Al Neyadi are now undergoing advanced training at the Johnson Space Centre in Houston, US, as the MBRSC has partnered with Nasa. Soon enough, the UAE will have its own space walkers or even see its own astronauts operate the ISS.
The MBRSC is currently shortlisting candidates for the second batch of the UAE Astronaut Programme, which will be announced early next year. From this batch, two more astronauts will join the UAE's space crew. - Staff Reporter