Emirati astronaut says 8-month isolation mission is 'first step in building analog station in UAE'

Saleh AlAmeri says he is 'proud to represent' country on global scientific stage


Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Sun 3 Jul 2022, 3:58 PM

Astronaut Saleh AlAmeri said the experiment he was part of was the first step towards building an analog station in the UAE.

He was speaking after emerging from his eight-month-long isolation mission as part of the first UAE Analog Astronaut mission at the NEK ground-based analogue facility in Moscow, Russia.

"I am proud to represent my country in the first UAE Analog mission," he said, speaking in Arabic, English and Russian. "I want to thank everyone who worked really hard on this project. I really appreciate your contribution, your time and effort on this project.

The Emirati was a part of the Sirius-21 crew who had been in isolation from November 2021 to June 3, 2022, during which he became a father. He will be eagerly looking forward to meeting his newborn daughter.

Abdallah AlHammadi, the backup astronaut, accompanied Saleh AlAmeri. Both are at the IBMP (Institute of Biomedical Problems of the Russian Academy of Sciences) facility.

MBRSC official representative Adnan Al Rais said in a media address that the greatest achievement of the mission was that it proved that, with international collaboration, deep space exploration could be achieved.

"The Sirius project has proven to be a platform for international collaboration and a viable platform to develop the science and technologies that will enable us in our future endeavours. The UAE and MBRSC are proud to be part of this mission," he said.

"This is an important milestone as part of the UAE analog program, which is part of our long-term strategy Mars 2117 to send humans to Mars and build settlements on the surface of Mars."

The research and outcomes of the UAE Analog Mission will add new insights to the global science community and catalyse the development of new technologies for future missions to other destinations in space.

Other participants also shared their experiences.

"It is not something everybody can do," said crew member Ashley Kowalski. "But our team managed it. We navigated through ups and downs, and we successfully completed and fulfilled the research mission."

She added that the findings also applied to humans living and working together in isolated spaces on the ground, such as during a pandemic or prolonged illness.

"What we learnt here and the data that was collected here is not only applicable to space but also the grander science," she said.


According to crew member William Brown, their challenge was two-fold.

"The first part was to see if we could withstand the loss of the personal, to unite together for the sake of science and humanity," he said. "The second one was to make this crew, people from around the world who have diverse interests, cultures and personalities, as successful as possible. We faced that challenge together by respecting each other, communicating, learning from one another and by being kind. Kindness was one of the biggest components of our success."

Analog missions are vital in preparing humans for future exploration of Mars and other planets. By simulating space-like conditions here on Earth, analog missions play a significant role in spaceflight research.

From the space technology used, to human isolation, from communication to the ground station and space experiments, these missions cover everything required to survive in space.

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