UAE astronaut Hazzaa lands safely back to Earth
AlMansoori spent eight days on the ISS and became the first Arab on the station.
UAE astronaut Hazzaa AlMansoori's mission to space was a huge success as he landed safely on Thursday. And even though it's been less than 24 hours since he touched down, he's said he hopes to "be back" on the International Space Station (ISS) in the near future.
Responding to Khaleej Times, AlMansoori spoke about how he felt seeing Earth from the International Space Station and his landing experience. "When I saw Earth, it was something breathtaking. When I saw the station, I thought it was incredible to see that mankind has achieved something like this and has maintained it for such a long time. The landing was soft and we prepared for it and trained how to conduct our procedures and what to expect during our landing."
AlMansoori, who spent eight days on the ISS and became the first Arab on the station, partook in a Press conference organised at the Karagandy International Airport, just three hours after his arrival on Earth (2.59pm UAE time). He landed on the Steppe of Kazakhstan, a few hundred kilometres away from Zhezkazgan.
He was welcomed at the airport with a traditional Kazakh ceremony, where he was gifted flowers, a Kazakh national attire and other gifts. Matryoshkas with the crews' faces on them were also gifted to them. "I will come back to station to join this international cooperation, which is really amazing. I was there for eight days but the way they treat me onboard the station is like we are one family. I think the one thing I will miss the most from the ISS is the crew on the station," he said.
"I feel proud to represent my country and the whole Arab region in this mission. I've come back successfully with the knowledge I gained and I cannot wait to transfer it to my country and the Arab region. It's really very important for us to have an Arab speaker onboard the station and we will continue with these missions. We will be a part of this international cooperation to explore space and be part of it in the longer term."
AlMansoori, a former military fighter jet pilot, launched to space on September 25 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome via the Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft at 5.57pm, UAE time. He returned onboard the Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft, along with Nasa astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin.
He was extracted from the spacecraft by medics at the landing site and then was placed in a chair, where he was checked by a team of doctors. He was then wrapped in the UAE flag and was carried by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre officials, Salem Al Marri and Saeed Karmostaji, to a medical tent.
AlMansoori and the crew were unable to walk or focus properly after landing as their brains re-adapt to gravity. Hague and Ovchinin spent 203 days on the ISS.
Al Marri, the head of the UAE Astronaut Programme, told Khaleej Times: "We are very happy and it's a big source of pride. We can see that the mission is complete and he conducted the mission beautifully. He was working 10 to 12 hours a day and we are very proud of him."
This UAE Mission 1 signifies just the beginning of the UAE's booming space industry as the country plans to send more Emirati astronauts to the ISS for longer durations.
This mission's backup astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi is set to be UAE's next man in space.
This mission involved 16 scientific experiments and six of them were carried out by AlMansoori onboard the ISS under microgravity conditions. The experiments were in cooperation with Roscosmos, European Space Agency, Nasa and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.
The research is meant to study the reaction of vital indicators of the human body aboard the ISS, as well as other physical, biological and chemical experiments.
Many historical moments took place during his eight-day stay on the station, including wearing the Emirati national attire (kandura), bringing the UAE flag onboard the ISS for the first time, becoming the first Arab to tweet from the station, taking Emirati food onboard and doing the first ISS tour in the Arabic language.
AlMansoori has now left for Star City, Russia, where he will spend seven to 10 days for more medical checks. He will be welcomed back to his home, UAE, with a grand homecoming.
A beginning of many more missions to come for the UAE
Wrapped in the UAE flag and wearing a massive smile on his face, Hazzaa Al Mansoori felt pride and excitement for accomplishing UAE's first mission to space.
His personality right after being extracted from the Soyuz spacecraft gave viewers a sense of relief, as he smiled widely to the camera and gave Sheikh Mohammed's famous three finger salute.
And when he was carried by Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre officials to the medical tent, with the UAE flag around his shoulders, everyone watching must have felt UAE's grand achievement.
Hazzaa spent eight days on the International Space Station (ISS) and his daily activities were made public for the entire world as he is the first Arab to go to the station and first Emirati in space.
I've tracked this space mission since he was in quarantine in the launch city, Baikonur, all the way to when he landed and spoke to us in a Press conference post-landing.
Assisted by MBRSC officials into the Karaganda Airport three hours after landing, Hazzaa appeared relieved, proud and eager to return to the ISS and be with the crew.
He and the other two crew members were unable to walk properly and seemed a bit dazed - this is because their brains are re-adapting to gravity. The Nasa astronaut, Nick Hague, and Russian cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin spent a whopping 203 days in space.
AlMansoori even appeared a bit sad about leaving earlier in the day during the hatch-closing ceremony on the ISS.
The Kazakhs always hold a welcome ceremony for all returning crews. However, this one seemed extra special as Hazzaa has achieved something historic. The crew were given the national Kazakh attire, flowers and gifts. The Kazakh governor also turned up for the Press conference.
Even though this was the end of UAE Space Mission 1, the vibes the MBRSC officials and Hazzaa gave off was that it's really just the beginning of the country's space industry. Plans to send Emirati astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi have apparently already been set in motion.
Now that Hazzaa is in Moscow for health checks, we await the breakthrough scientific discoveries his mission will bring once the experiments have been examined. It's the first time Arab genetics can be studied in depth.
It's not the end of this mission, it's a symbol of many more to come for the UAE.