AlNeyadi's return, Indian solar mission: UAE students gear up for major space events this week

Khaleej Times speaks to students and space enthusiasts about their pride and interest in the sciences

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File photo
File photo

Nandini Sircar


Angel Tesorero

Published: Sat 2 Sep 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Sat 2 Sep 2023, 10:45 PM

Two major space events are happening this weekend and UAE students can’t be more excited and inspired to see history unfolding.

The first is UAE astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi’s homecoming after completing doing experiments and maintenance work aboard the International Space Station for six months. His journey back home is set to begin on Sunday, September 3, (following a one-delay due to unfavourable weather conditions near splashdown sites off the coast of Florida).

The other big event is happening today, September 2. Coming on the heels of the successful Chandrayaan-3’s successful soft landing on the surface of the Moon, India is set to launch Aditya-L1 mission, its first solar mission that will study the Sun. Lift of is scheduled at 11.50am (local time) from Sriharikota spaceport in Andhra Pradesh.

Welcoming Sultan, the first Arab astronaut who completed a historic spacewalk outside the International Space Station, and the pride of seeing India’s tri-colour making its way to Sun, gives UAE students not only a sense of pride but also a source of inspiration to know more about space and sciences.

Khaleej Times spoke to some and here’s what they have to say:

Space fanatic

Ali Hassan, six-year-old student at American International School, Abu Dhabi, said: “I’m a space fanatic and I hope to work for a space agency one day. I am counting down until the big return of Sultan so that my family and I can watch him live coming back to the Earth. In our school we were told about Sultan Al Neyadi and that he went to space. I am really interested in learning more about space. I will be watching his return on the computer. I plan to sit and watch it with my older siblings, Rovan and Lina.”

“I know Sultan spoke to a lot of school students like me. I wish I had the opportunity to meet him once and ask him a few questions. I wanted to know how he was able to sleep in space? I’ve heard there is no gravity there and everything floats.”

We’ve met Sultan

Siblings Mishal Faraz, 16 and Mir Faraz, 13 are also space junkies who’ve had the opportunity of meeting Sultan and Hazza AlMansoori, the first Emirati who went to space, earlier.

They said: “We are beyond excited about Sultan's return to Earth. We've followed his historic journey diligently through the past six months. We enjoyed and learned frm the amazing photographs and videos he shared. His calls from space have kept us hooked and fascinated. We are going to be glued to the TV to catch the first glimpse of returning home."

“We are also looking forward to the launch of the Aditya L-1 mission, the first Indian mission to explore the Sun. With the success of Chandrayaan-3 still fresh and new, India is already moving on to its next major celestial milestone, from the Moon to the Sun.

Extremely proud of Sultan

Egyptian Lilly Doss, who is a Year 4 student at Dubai International Academy Emirates Hills, said: “It's always fascinating to see astronauts travel to space and then return back home after their missions. I have been tracking all that Al Neyadi has been doing in space. I have been reading his tweets and watching his videos. They were always very exciting. I have especially been curious about how he brushes his teeth and found it amusing when he would hold onto the handrail so that he didn’t float away. A few times I saw him grabbing the microphone tightly as it floated away from him."

“I am going to log onto the MBRSC website on Sunday and watch the start of his journey home. I’m extremely proud of Sultan and all his accomplishment. It’s because of him that I got so interested in all things Space.”

Proud to be in the UAE

Twelve-year old Pakistani student Sabih Ahmed Farhan said: “I’m very excited to watch Sultan come home after his long mission in space. I watched him did the historic spacewalk for the Arab world. It makes me feel very happy and proud I’m calling the UAE my home. I will also be watching Adhitya-L1 Mission."

Sabih Ahmed Farhan
Sabih Ahmed Farhan

Lebanese-American student Reina Mazen Naba, 11, shared: “I am super excited to watch the two space events. Astronauts and everything with space have always thrilled me. I am certainly going to tune in to see this major milestone for the UAE! I wish Sultan of Space a safe return home.”

Reina Mazen Naba
Reina Mazen Naba

Yojit Srinivasan added: “I am excitedly looking forward to September 3 when Emirati astronaut Al Neyadi will return to Earth after his long-haul mission. I have been following his Instagram page and enjoying all his updates. He has made it so interesting and fun for us to know and learn about the space and microgravity. I especially enjoyed his posts about ‘study of fluids in space dynamics’. And I remember yet another cool post he has done about 'intermediate axis theorem in action. 'I would not miss a chance to meet him and hear more about his mission experience directly from him. I am truly and doubly proud and blessed to be an Indian in UAE at such a good time. Both my countries are making their marks in the space.”

Yojit Srinivasan
Yojit Srinivasan


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