UAE announces date for astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi's return to the Emirates

The Emirati landed back on Earth earlier this month after completing the longest Arab space mission in history

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Sahim Salim


Angel Tesorero

Published: Thu 14 Sep 2023, 3:09 PM

Last updated: Sun 17 Sep 2023, 10:26 AM

It's confirmed, Emirati astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi will return to the UAE tomorrow. Taking to X (formerly Twitter) on Thursday, the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) announced AlNeyadi will be back home on Monday, September 18.

After spending six months doing scientific research aboard the International Space Station (ISS), AlNeyadi and his Crew-6 colleagues returned to Earth on September 4. They made a splashdown off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida, and stayed in Houston for recovery.

UAE leaders are expected to welcome AlNeyadi, with the entire nation buzzing with excitement as he prepares to return after completing the longest-ever Arab space mission. The nation eagerly awaits to hear his insights and experiences from this historic journey.

No specific details have been given yet for his homecoming but a 'hero's welcome' is being organised for the pioneering UAE astronaut who also made history as the first Arab spacewalker.

'Pride of the nation'

Previously, Hazza Al Mansoori – the UAE's first astronaut – was given a warm welcome when he returned home back in October 2019. Traditional dance, music, and honorific flypast are expected to greet AlNeyadi when he lands at the Presidential Terminal of Abu Dhabi International Airport.

Back then, AlMansoori and AlNeyadi (who was the backup astronaut) were greeted by an Emirati troupe dancing the traditional ayala before walking beneath a sign bearing their images and reading "Welcome home, pride of the nation."

The UAE President, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who was then Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, welcomed the two astronauts upon their arrival at the airport.

Sheikh Mohamed gifted AlMansoori a neatly folded UAE flag while Al Fursan, the Air Force's aerobatic display team, performed a flyover, painting the sky with UAE colours. Inside the airport, a large number of sheikhs and senior officials welcomed the space heroes along with scores of schoolchildren who applauded their return and excitedly waved the UAE flags.

Eagerly awaited

Reuniting with family and friends and talking to the youth will definitely take most of AlNeyadi's time. His return to the UAE is eagerly awaited as he is expected to engage in roadshows across the country to share his life in space and give valuable insights into his experiments in microgravity that have a far-ranging impact on human physiology in space and life on Earth.

After living in microgravity for half a year, AlNeyadi shared how difficult it was initially to adjust to Earth's gravity. It was so intense that he found it challenging even to hold a bottle of water.

The discomfort, however, was temporary. AlNeyadi said his body recovered swiftly, thanks to the recovery teams, flight surgeons, and rehabilitation facilities.

The mission continues

Another important message that we can expect from AlNeyadi upon his return is the reiteration of the UAE's continuing space exploration.

He has constantly explained that his mission continued the UAE's Astronaut Programme, which started with Al Mansoori, who flew to the ISS in 2019. Aside from AlNeyadi and Al Mansoori, Emirati astronauts Nora Al Matrooshi and Mohammad Al Mulla are set to graduate in early 2024 to join a select group of flight-eligible astronauts ready for space mission.

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