UAE astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi could return to Earth as soon as August 31

He has spent 4,000 hours doing experiments and maintenance work aboard the orbiting space laboratory


Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Fri 4 Aug 2023, 4:52 PM

Sultan AlNeyadi could return to earth as early as August 31, according to latest information.

During a press briefing held in Dubai on Friday, Sultan AlMarri, Director General of Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC) said that Crew 7, the group that will take over from Crew 6 that AlNeyadi is part of, could blast off to space as early as August 24.

“The final date has not been confirmed as yet by NASA,” he said, speaking to Khaleej Times. “Crew 7 is planning to launch around August 24 to August 27. Once they launch, it could be a week to ten days before Sultan returns.”

If Crew 7 launches on August 24 and AlNeyadi returns after seven days, he could be back on earth as early as August 31. The astronaut, who lifted off from Earth to the International Space Station (ISS) on March 2 has spent 4,000 hours doing experiments and maintenance work aboard the orbiting space laboratory.

However, AlMarri said ANeyadi’s return could happen anytime in the window of end of August and beginning of September. “We should wait for the announcement from Nasa because they are the ones that will be making the announcement,” he said.

On Thursday, NASA revealed that August 25 was the most likely date for Crew 7 to blast off as additional time was needed to complete pad readiness needed for the launch.

Return to the UAE

AlNeyadi will return home to the UAE in September to a hero’s welcome, according to AlMarri. “Once he gets back, he will have to go through a rehabilitation period where he will be recovering from his flight for a few weeks,” said AlMarri. “Then we will bring him back to the UAE where we will have a hero’s welcome for him. I think he might be coming home by mid to end of September.”

Soon after, he will have to return to the US. “He has to continue the science experiments, mission debrief, and lessons learnt,” said AlMarri. “There are a lot of post mission activities that he has to complete.”

After that AlNeyadi will spend several weeks touring schools and government departments speaking about his experiences and sharing the lessons he learnt.

Preparing for Crew 7

Later, in an exclusive interaction with UAE media, AlNeyadi revealed that the Crew 6 team had interacted with the team of Crew 7 and gave them some advice for the upcoming mission. Responding to a question in Arabic, he said: “We spoke to them and are preparing to receive them,” he said. “We gave them advice and discussed the handover. We are coordinating between ourselves on how to take forward the work at ISS.”

Nasa astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli, European Space Agency astronaut Andreas Mogensen, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Satoshi Furukawa, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Konstantin Borisov will launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket aboard the company’s Dragon spacecraft. If needed, Crew-7 has additional launch opportunities on Saturday, August 26th and Sunday, August 27th.

Once Crew 7 arrives at the ISS, AlNeyadi and the rest of Crew-6, will have to finish all handover protocols. After docking, Crew-7 will be welcomed inside by the seven-member crew of Expedition 69, including AlNeyadi, who will conduct several days of handover activities.


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