Drinking water in zero gravity, telling 'up' from 'down': What UAE astronaut revealed in second Earth-to-space call

AlNeyadi interacts from space station with residents gathered at Dubai Opera

by

Nandini Sircar

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Photos: Twitter
Photos: Twitter

Published: Tue 21 Mar 2023, 5:14 PM

Last updated: Tue 21 Mar 2023, 8:26 PM

In ‘A Call With Space’ the Emirati astronaut opened up about his daily schedule onboard the orbiting laboratory

Addressing the public from the International Space Station (ISS), Emirati astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi on Tuesday, in a candid call to the citizens and residents of the UAE reiterated that “he is very happy to float” as he lives his “childhood dream” of going to the space.


“I am very happy and proud to be representing the UAE and all the Arab countries,” he added.

The curious public that gathered at Dubai Opera included several children, who had many intriguing questions for AlNeyadi. The queries pertained to his daily schedule and activities on the ISS.


This special call was part of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center’s (MBRSC) initiative titled, ‘A Call With Space,’ as he continues to live in microgravity.

The 41-year-old who tried to maintain his grip on the station’s floor clinging to a handrail, was seen smilingly answering all questions related to ‘what he eats in space’, ‘how he sleeps’ and why he exercises for two hours daily onboard the ISS.”

Responding to one of the questions, AlNeyadi cites his biggest challenge. “We have no directions here as we keep going ‘upside down’. So, we have to familiarize ourselves daily. I find it difficult to distinguish between different sight locations. So, there are modules to learn (as to when to go) ‘up’, ‘down’, ‘right’ and ‘left’.

He then also touched upon how they keep track of time onboard the orbiting laboratory as the ISS travels at a brisk 17,100 miles per hour. That means it orbits Earth every 90 minutes.

“We see 16 sunrises and 16 sunsets each day. So, it’s difficult to track time. Therefore, the unified time is GMT (is what we follow). We also calculate time as per our activities.”

One of the attendees then raised a query about how items are secured in space. To this he averred, “We have different things to secure items. For example, we use velcro to secure things. All food items also need to be secured too. We also have handrails and bungees to secure items.”

AlNeyadi who is the first Arab to be undertaking the long-haul mission to space, also shared how he communicates and stays in touch with his family. “Satellites help us to connect with our families through video and phone calls.”

Sultan shares that he ate scrambled eggs in space today.

Encouraging children in between, for their intelligent questions, AlNeyadi then responds on how the astronauts are treated to a variety of foods, up there.

“We have cargo vehicles that keep arriving at the station. Our food is packed in little packets/pouches. I had scrambled eggs today.”

Showing one of the food packets he adds, “I just need to add water to it.” In another interesting act, he also demonstrated to everyone how he drinks water in zero gravity.

Answering a question related to how his body reacted to microgravity, he underlines the importance of exercising daily in space. “We lose a lot of body mass and bone density in space. Therefore, I have to exercise daily for two hours on a cycle which is like a treadmill. To create resistance, we have vacuum cylinders that simulate weight.”

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