UAE astronaut’s life at ISS: How first 24 hours went for Sultan AlNeyadi in his new home

When a new crew arrives in space, they spend several days doing orientation tasks to familiarise themselves with their new home

by

Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Sat 4 Mar 2023, 3:22 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Mar 2023, 10:35 PM

Emirati astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi has officially spent his first day in his home in orbit after floating into the International Space Station on Friday.

AlNeyadi, the first Arab to go on a long-duration space mission, will spend six months aboard the ISS conducting various experiments.


Here is how the last 24 hours unfolded:

AlNeyadi, along with his Crew-6 mates, arrived at the ISS after a 24-hour flight at 10.40am UAE time. Docking was delayed slightly as mission teams had to troubleshoot of a faulty docking hook sensor on the Dragon Endeavour.


The crew members of Expedition 68 — Nasa astronauts Frank Rubio, Nicole Mann, and Josh Cassada, as well as Koichi Wakata of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), and Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev, Dmitri Petelin, and Anna Kikina — first opened the hatch between the space station and the pressurized mating adapter at 12.45pm then opened the hatch to Dragon.

Crew 6 — which includes Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev along with Nasa astronauts Woody Hoburg and Stephen Bowen, apart from AlNeyadi — were welcomed into the ISS, and a safety briefing and orientation followed soon after.

But first, sleep

After the orientation, the members of Crew 6 settled for some much-needed sleep.

Temporary sleeping quarters, called the Crew Alternate Sleep Accommodation, were installed to make space for all 11 of the crew members aboard the ISS right now. This accommodation can be converted into a cargo storage rack as well.

Crew-5 are now preparing to undock and splash down off the coast of Florida as soon as their handover is done. One of the members said in a media Q&A last week that she couldn’t wait to "feel the wind on her face, smell the grass on earth and taste the delicious food back on earth".

Handover

A handover is the period between the start of one space station crew’s time on the station, and the end of another crew’s time.

From the end of the Space Shuttle programme in 2011, until the first Commercial Crew flights with astronauts in 2020, teams typically performed an indirect handover where one team left before the other team arrived, leaving just 3 people in the ISS in between missions.

Since the launch of the Commercial Crew Programme, there has been a direct handover. To ensure that the station is continuously staffed with astronauts and cosmonauts, a new crew launches and arrives at the station before the prior crew returns to Earth.

This results in a short period of time when there are more crew members than usual aboard the station.

When a new crew arrives in space, they spend several days doing orientation tasks to familiarise themselves with their new home. They also take part in data collection for several Human Research Program studies, to help scientists track how their bodies adapt to living and working in space.

Crew members preparing to return to Earth spend time packing cargo for the flight home, doing refresher training for landing or splashdown operations, and collecting any final samples for human research projects. The combined crew continues to support science and maintenance, and all crew members continue to exercise approximately two hours every day.

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