UAE astronaut Hazzaa AlMansoori makes history as first Arab to lead ISS expedition from Earth

He will be the point of contact between the ground team and ISS crew during real-time operations for Mission 69

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Published: Sat 1 Apr 2023, 5:22 PM

Last updated: Sat 1 Apr 2023, 11:15 PM

Pioneering UAE astronaut Hazzaa AlMansoori, the first Emirati who went to space, will serve as the first Arab Increment Lead for an International Space Station (ISS) expedition, marking another milestone for the longest Arab space mission.

The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) announced on Saturday that AlMansoori will be the point of contact between the ground team and the ISS crew during real-time operations of Expedition 69. As Increment Lead, he will be responsible for preparing, implementing and overseeing the execution of the mission.


“I am honoured to facilitate seamless information exchange between the Astronauts Office and the ISS Expedition team,” said AlMansoori, adding: “However, my role entails more than just transmitting data. It includes understanding and appreciating our crew’s challenges and triumphs in space. We aim to advance human space exploration through our collective efforts to support Expedition 69.”

AlMansoori became the first Emirati to go to the ISS in September 2019 as he embarked on an eight-day scientific mission on the orbiting laboratory.


The Expedition 69 crew aboard the ISS, meanwhile, led by Emirati astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi, will conduct multiple experiments during their mission, including investigating the effects of microgravity on material combustion to enhance spacecraft safety, testing a novel tool for deep-space immune monitoring, and advancing research on 3D-cultured cardiac muscle tissue to evaluate human cardiac function in microgravity.

Additionally, AlNeyadi will test samples for microorganisms from outside of the space station.

MBRSC director general Salem Humaid Al Marri noted that AlMansoori’s appointment as Increment Lead of Expedition 69 “showcases his skills and knowledge and paves the way for more Arab astronauts in space exploration".

“We are excited to see Sultan and Hazzaa collaborate to conduct ground-breaking experiments that will broaden our knowledge of space and understanding of life in microgravity,” he added.

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Expedition 69

Following the undocking of the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft on March 28, ISS Expedition 69 is officially underway. Aside from AlNeyadi, Expedition 69 crew members aboard the ISS include Nasa astronauts Stephen Bowen, Woody Hoburg and Frank Rubio, as well as Roscosmos cosmonauts Dmitri Petelin, Sergey Prokopyev and Andrey Fedyaev.

AlNeyadi has already begun conducting experiments with the BioFabrication Facility, evaluating its capacity to produce knee cartilage tissue for treating injuries in space and remote locations on Earth. He also underwent neck, shoulder, and leg vein scans using the Ultrasound 2 medical device.

Other scheduled experiments aboard the ISS include:

  • SoFIE-MIST: The Solid Fuel Ignition and Extinction – Material Ignition and Suppression Test (SoFIE-MIST) study aims to investigate the flammability of materials that could be employed in future space missions.
  • Immunity Assay Studies: This investigation seeks to develop a practical tool for monitoring the immune system directly aboard the ISS, as well as on Earth.
  • Engineered Heart Tissues-2: This research aims to evaluate whether new therapies can help prevent the onset of cardiac diseases.
  • External Microorganisms Study: Scientists intend to identify the microorganisms that might be transported with crew members during deep space exploration. This knowledge will assist researchers in determining the contaminants that may be brought along and which are native to other planetary bodies.

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