UAE astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi reveals the first thing he will do on going back home

The astronaut said he lived his childhood dream of going to space and seeing the Milky Way


Nandini Sircar

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Published: Mon 18 Sep 2023, 10:01 PM

Last updated: Mon 18 Sep 2023, 10:02 PM

After returning to his home in Al Ain, Sultan AlNeyadi plans to rest and enjoy some downtime with his family. Speaking to the media for the first time after returning to the UAE on Monday, the astronaut said, "I will enjoy some downtime and relax. I would also love to go and enjoy nature, go out to the mosque, and pray. I want to greet everyone, spend some quality time with the family, and explain everything I've seen." he said.

AlNeyadi was welcomed with warm hugs from three of his children at the door of his plane. He held them close, patted their backs and handed over plushie Suhail to his younger son.

"My son asked me 'is this the Suhail you took' and I said it was a fake one," he laughed. "I have the real one hidden. He is a VIP now."

Lived his childhood dream

AlNeyadi, who will be in the UAE for a week, also said that he lived his childhood dream of going to space, which he always aspired for.

Recalling the journey to Earth in a SpaceX Dragon capsule, he said he saw some beautiful sights. "My window was facing Earth. I saw the Milky Way. I used to see it from Al Ain when I was a boy. Seeing it from space was like a dream becoming reality."

"I feel happy and privileged," said AlNeyadi. "It took 17 hours to reach Earth from space and 16 hours from Houston to Abu Dhabi."

Congratulates ISRO on Chandrayaan

Addressing the largest international diaspora in the UAE, AlNeyadi also applauded the ISRO's success of the Chandrayaan 3 mission. He said, "It was amazing to see India from the ISS; I took many photos and was happy to share the image of New Delhi. I was excited to see the smooth and successful landing (on the Moon). I was really proud. India is taking great steps towards becoming a spacefaring nation."

When asked if he would have done anything differently in retrospect, AlNeyadi said that everything in the mission is scripted.

"Honestly, I don't think I would be doing anything differently. Everything was planned months ago. Maybe I would do a few videos (differently) or practice some activities if I had more time or maybe do the same. Everything is planned months beforehand…the exact moment and location are predefined. You just receive that."

Sharing a key takeaway from his wealth of experience for future astronauts who may undertake human spaceflight missions, he said, "I would tell them to prepare well, believe in your target, and everything is possible."

No room for errors

Shedding light on his daunting seven-hour-long spacewalk, AlNeyadi expressed his trust in training and techniques, emphasising his focus on the mission at hand.

"We trust our training and the techniques that we deal with. My focus was on the mission itself. I didn't think of the seven hours. There was no room for errors. Not just for yourself, but it's a responsibility. So, the feeling of fear is drowned by the focus that is required. I put a note in hand spelling out the procedure. Nothing is impossible. That's the slogan of the UAE."


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