First UAE astronaut's ISS mission launch time revealed
Dubai - Al Mansoori will be on the S61 Expedition on the Soyuz MS-15 mission as a second flight engineer.
The UAE will make history on September 25 at exactly 5.56pm, when its first astronaut Hazza Al Mansoori rockets off to space. When his spacecraft docks with the International Space Station (ISS) at about 12:00am, he'll become the first Arab to go to the station.
New details about the eight-day mission, which is now less than a month away, were announced by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) yesterday, including the launch time, personal items Al Mansoori will be carrying, number of training hours completed and the kind of scientific experiments he'll be doing onboard the ISS.
The 36-year-old former military pilot is currently in Russia and has completed his training. His backup astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi and he will be taking their final exam on August 30.
Saeed Karmostaji, manager of the astronauts office at the MBRSC, said: "Hazza and Sultan have completed over 1,400 training hours and more than 90 training courses provided to them by NASA, Roscosmos, European Space Agency and the Japanese space Agency, JAXA.
"They've carried out some final training that has helped them prepare for all possible outcomes during the launch and mission. They are feeling very confident and are looking forward to the launch and taking the UAE flag to space."
Al Mansoori will be on the S61 Expedition on the Soyuz MS-15 mission as a second flight engineer, along with American flight engineer Jessica Meir and Russian commander Oleg Skripochka.
He'll mainly be focusing on microgravity effects on the human body and will also conduct experiments provided to him by 16 schools across the UAE. He's also been tasked to carry out daily maintenance on the ISS.
Al Mansoori will return on October 3 onboard the Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft, which is currently docked at the ISS.
What happens closer to launch day?
Khaleej Times was in Baikonur in July for the Soyuz MS-13 mission and learned that all astronauts, including Al Mansoori, will be in quarantine three weeks prior to lift-off. He'll bid goodbye to his family through a glass wall. Al Mansoori will have his farewell from Moscow, Russia, on September 10 and will head to Baikonur, Kazakhstan, where he and his crew will be put into quarantine.
They'll stay at the Cosmonaut Hotel - the quarantine quarters for all astronauts - until launch day. The quarantine is to ensure the astronauts do not catch any harmful bacteria or chemicals, which could jeopardise their mission, the ISS or the crew on board the ISS at the time of their arrival.
There are a series of pre-flight rituals he'll be required to follow, including signing a special wall in Moscow, visiting the Yuri Gagarin (first man to go to space) monument and putting down flowers and planting a tree. The night prior to launch day, the crew will hold a Press conference.
A few hours after liftoff, the Russian space agency and other space agencies will hold another press conference to update the media on the status of the launch.
Astronauts prepared for emergency situations
Emirati astronauts Hazza Al Mansoori and Sultan Al Neyadi have undergone training on how to respond to emergency situations that could occur during the mission, including the release of harmful gases.
Al Mansoori's initial launch was onboard the Soyuz MS-12 mission on April 5. However, when the crew on the Soyuz MS-10 mission had to make a ballistic re-entry into Earth after the spacecraft's booster failed to separate properly, the Emirati's launch date was postponed. It's the first time since the 1980s that the Soyuz spacecraft faced such kind of an incident. Fortunately, the spacecraft is equipped with the necessary escape and rescue tools to bring the astronauts safely back on Earth.
Packing light: What's inside Hazza's space luggage?
Each astronaut is allowed to take 0.68kg of items with him on the Soyuz spacecraft. Hazza Al Mansoori's luggage will contain:
>The Holy Quran
>Qissati, the latest book written by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai
>A 100% silk UAE flag
>30 Ghaf tree seeds
>Photos of his family
>A photo of the late Sheikh Zayed meeting three American astronauts in 1976
>Inflatable balls which represent Mars and Earth