Revealed: What Emirati pioneer astronaut Hazza AlMansouri wants to ask Sultan AlNeyadi when he returns to Earth

He says that despite not knowing each other before 2016, they developed a close bond while undergoing training together


Nasreen Abdulla

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Photo: AFP file
Photo: AFP file

Published: Mon 4 Sep 2023, 7:37 AM

Last updated: Mon 4 Sep 2023, 3:40 PM

Emirati pioneer astronaut Hazza AlMansouri has revealed that there are two things he wants to ask his colleague Sultan AlNeyadi when they meet after the latter splashes down on earth. “I have been in touch with him everyday since he left,” he said. “But there are two things that I want to ask him when we meet face to face.”

The first thing that AlMansouri wants to discuss is the spacewalk. “I spoke to him briefly after the spacewalk,” he said. “But I am not satisfied. I want to know all the details about it. A spacewalk is something every astronaut looks forward to doing. It is really amazing that he got to do it.”

AlMansouri was speaking at a discussion with media over Zoom, during which he explained that he also wants to compare notes with Alneyadi about the return back to earth. “I want to hear from him the experience of his ride back home,” he said. “I want to compare it with my ride back on the Soyuz capsule. This will help me to learn more about the different vehicles and how the body reacts differently while landing on the ocean and landing on a hard surface. This is important knowledge that can be passed on to the next generation.”

While AlMansouri traveled to space on board a Russian Soyuz MS-15, AlNeyadi flew to the International Space Station (ISS) on an American SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft.

‘Good eye for photography’

During his six-month-long mission on the ISS, AlNeyadi has shared several beautiful photos. AlMansouri revealed that even Nasa often used his photographs. “He has a good eye for photography and often gets good angles,” he said. “The feedback I got every day, from NASA, from the scientists and from ground controllers was that he is very efficient in his work and that he is really good in taking photos.”

AlMansouri further elaborated that despite not knowing each other prior to 2016, when they both started their space training together, he and AlNeyadi have built a strong bond. “We started this endeavour together,” he said. “The training in Russia was hard for us as we were some of the first Arab astronauts. Our bond and camaraderie built up from there.”

He also explained that their families were also very close, and their mothers spoke to each other regularly. In 2019, AlNeyadi named his son Hazza, in honour of his colleague. “I told my wife that now we need to name our next baby boy Sultan,” he said.

Future of UAE space programme

AlMansouri also revealed that the UAE space programme has plans to send astronauts to space regularly. “Our programme is sustainable,” he said. “So the plan is to send an astronaut every four or five years.”

He expressed hope that someday in the future he would be able to embark on a joint mission with AlNeyadi. He also sent out a message to the future generation of wanna-be astronauts. “If you have this dream of going to space, start working for it now,” he said. “Build bonds with friends and have the ability to work with others of different mentalities. This will help when working on a space program. There is a huge group of people who are working together to make this mission happen.”


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