'Everything felt really heavy': UAE astronaut recalls battle with gravity, struggle to hold water bottle after return to Earth

However, despite all the difficulties, Sultan AlNeyadi is ready for the next mission

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Nandini Sircar

Published: Wed 13 Sep 2023, 12:07 AM

Last updated: Wed 13 Sep 2023, 8:47 AM

Emirati astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi has shared how difficult it was to adjust to weightiness and gravity on returning to Earth after his six-month mission aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Feeling gravity was so intense that he found it challenging to even hold a bottle of water.

Addressing a media briefing on Tuesday, AlNeyadi said: "Everything really felt heavy. I was the last one to egress the capsule. I didn’t realise that I was off straps until the recovery teams started to pull me. It was only my weight pushing me towards the seat."

He recalled being offered a bottle of water. “It felt really heavy ... I didn’t drink it because I didn’t want to move a lot.”

But despite the initial discomfort, he marvelled at how rapidly his body started to recover.

“It’s amazing how quickly one can get better. It’s by the hour. You start moving your arms, then you stand and move your legs. It’s amazing how quickly you start recovering ... It’s not easy, you might have some difficulty walking, you might have motion sickness.”

However, despite all the difficulties, AlNeyadi is ready for the next mission.

"I am humbled by this experience (of going to space) ... I often get asked if I want to go to space again. And I say, I’d definitely want to go."

AlNeyadi also emphasised the importance of the recovery teams, flight surgeons, and rehabilitation facilities in helping astronauts return to normalcy swiftly.

"People might see four astronauts going to space, but honestly, this is not possible without the support of family and friends, the ground teams that consist of thousands of people working tirelessly to make this possible. Throughout the six months, we might work in the morning and then go to sleep, but there are people working around the clock to make this possible and to facilitate all the science."

He stressed that the UAE's space programme is "continuous" and that the mission continues.

"My mission is a continuation of the space programme that started with my colleague Hazza AlMansouri ... We have astronauts under training that will finish next year."


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