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We have liftoff! Joy and pride in UAE as astronaut Hazzaa enters space

Hazzaa, Hazzaa, space, astronaut, international space station, ISS, soyuz

With clockwork precision, the MS-15 lifted off at three minutes to 6pm UAE time.

By Vicky Kapur (From the Executive Editor's Desk)

Published: Thu 26 Sep 2019, 9:46 PM

Last updated: Fri 27 Sep 2019, 12:34 PM

It was the moment we were all waiting for ever since UAE Mission 1 was announced last year. From then on, the excitement continued to build and the nation cheered every milestone big or small on the way. From the signing of the agreement with the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos in June 2018 to the selection of Hazzaa AlMansoori and Sultan AlNeyadi from among 4,022 hopefuls in September 2018 to the verticalisation of the rocket two days before lift-off, every step of the first Emirati astronaut's journey to the International Space Station (ISS) was duly applauded.
The hundreds of hours of rigorous training that Hazzaa and his backup Sultan put in, the thousands of experiments that were sifted through to arrive at the 16 that the UAE astronaut will conduct in the eight days he's aboard the ISS, millions of Emiratis and expats wishing #GoodLuckHazzaa. and it all boiled down to 5.57pm UAE time yesterday, when the Soyuz MS-15 blasted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in southern Kazakhstan for its four-orbit, six-hour journey to the ISS, placing the UAE firmly on the space map.
Despite it being a working day in the UAE, an unaware visitor to the country would have mistaken the buzz and excitement for it being a national festival. And it was nothing less than that. From school kids dressed in space suits in the morning to strangers flocking together next to giant TV screens put up in various locations across the emirates and colleagues assembling near office TVs or computers to catch the live telecast of the lift-off, the mood of the nation was one of palpable delight.
With clockwork precision, the MS-15 lifted off at three minutes to 6pm UAE time, marking a historic and proud moment for the young country that has achieved in its young life what some other nations have taken centuries to achieve. Propelled by the hopes and aspirations of an entire nation and generation, the Soyuz rocket soared ever higher to defy gravity and reached for the stars - and beyond. As we wish Hazzaa and the rest of the crew all the best for their stay at the ISS and a safe return, the nation already has Mars in its sight as the next stop in its space journey. Onwards and upwards, UAE!

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