‘Now, we’re brothers’: Watch UAE astronaut bid farewell to ISS colleagues

Sultan AlNeyadi, who made history as first Arab astronaut to complete spacewalk, said 6 months he spent in space felt like they passed by really quickly


Angel Tesorero

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Published: Fri 1 Sep 2023, 2:31 PM

Last updated: Sun 3 Sep 2023, 7:23 PM

UAE’s Sultan AlNeyadi and his Crew-6 mates are all set to return home this weekend. They have said their goodbyes to the remaining crew of the International Space Station and said, if given the chance, they would like to fly to space again.

AlNeyadi, who made history as the first Arab astronaut to complete a spacewalk, said the six months he spent in space felt like they passed by really quickly.

“It was amazing time, we did a lot of science, maintenance work (on the ISS) and good outreach with many people around the world,” he added during a press briefing on Friday, a day before Crew-6 members (AlNeyadi, Nasa astronauts Stephen Bowen and Woody Hoburg, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev) are set to start their journey back to Earth.

The long-duration space mission was both a collective achievement for the Arab world and personal accomplishment for AlNeyadi. He said: “It was really amazing, especially for my region. I came from a place where human space flight was stopped for more than 30 years. I felt that I was responsible and [obligated] to show what was happening at the space station. And it was a boost spreading enthusiasm in our region.”

The first Arab who flew to space was Prince Sultan bin Salman Al Saud of Saudi Arabia,, who flew in US Space Shuttle in 1985, followed by Syrian astronaut Muhammed Faris in 1987, who was part of a joint Syrian-Soviet mission. No more human space flight came from the region after that until Hazza AlMansoori, the first Emirati who went to space, went to the ISS in September 2019.

‘Every moment was incredible’

AlNeyadi, who followed in the footsteps of AlMansoori aboard the ISS, said: “I can’t be really happier with the time I’m here doing everything possible – a really incredible time,” he added.

AlNeyadi also thanked the ISS crew he spent time with including Nasa astronaut Frank Rubio for his leadership at the ISS, as well as Russian cosmonauts Dmitri Petelin and Sergey Prokopyev.

He also gave his personal advice to the latest ISS flight engineers (Jasmin Moghbeli from Nasa, Andreas Mogensen from European Space Agency, Satoshi Furukawa (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), and Russian cosmonaut Konstantin Borisov to enjoy every moment they spend aboard the orbital laboratory.

‘Now, we’re brothers’

As part of his farewell, AlNeyadi added that he would love to fly again – 100 per cent – to space with his Crew-6 mates.

Earlier on Thursday, AlNeyadi posted on X (formerly Twitter) a heartwarming tribute to his colleagues who flew with him to the ISS in early March this year. He said: We began the mission as crewmates, but now we're brothers. Over the last 6 months, I gained a new family - with whom I shared expertise, traditions, and cultures, and experienced beautiful and challenging moments while creating unforgettable memories together.”


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