'We are ready': UAE astronaut arrives at Kennedy Space Centre for 6-month space mission; as it happened

Sultan Al Neyadi will take off for International Space Station on February 26

By Angel Tesorero

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Photo: MBR Space Centre
Photo: MBR Space Centre

Published: Tue 21 Feb 2023, 9:00 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Mar 2023, 12:29 PM

[Editor's Note: This blog is now closed.]

UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi is one step closer to creating history. He arrived at the Kennedy Space Centre, Florida, along with his Crew6 colleagues before his long-haul mission to International Space Station.

The Emirati astronaut will take off on February 26 in what will be the Arab world's first long-duration space mission. A total of 250 research experiments will be carried out during the six-month mission, which will include Al Neyadi conducting at least 20 experiments, apart from the tasks consigned by Nasa and doing maintenance work on the orbiting station.

Here are the highlights on Crew6's arrival and press meeting at Kennedy Space Centre:

9.59pm: Our region is thirsty to learn

Sultan Al Neyadi expressed his excitement at the possibility that two Saudi astronauts could join him during his stay on the ISS.

The Saudi Space Commission earlier announced that Rayyanah Barnawi and Ali Alqarni would be part of the Ax-2 mission to the ISS scheduled for launch no earlier than May on a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft.

“It will be exciting and really interesting,” said Al Neyadi, adding: Prince Sultan bin Salman was the first Arab astronaut to go to space in 1985, followed by a Syrian astronaut in 1987. Hazza AlMansoori was the third in 2019, and I will be the fourth.

Al Neyadi said they will be pushing the boundaries of science, noting: “Our region is also thirsty to learn, and we ambassadors of science hope to bring more knowledge when we come back.”

9.57pm: Sharing of dates in space

During this 6-month mission, Al Neyadi will spend the whole month of Ramadan in space. He plans to take dates with him and share them with his crew members aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Al Neyadi joked that he wouldn't miss carrying dates with him as they were a special request by commander Stephen Bowen.

He also said he would wear his jujitsu kimono and practice some moves

9.56pm: ‘Thank you’

Wearing the typical blue Nasa spacesuit, Al Neyadi made his opening speech at the press briefing by thanking his family, trainers and colleagues. He said, "We have a great team and can't ask for more. We are ready - physically, mentally and technically for this mission, through which we aim to share knowledge and spread enthusiasm for space exploration."

He added this mission would be the second trip to space by the UAE but the first long-duration space mission for the Arab world.

9.41pm: Salem Humaid Al Marri addresses the press

Salem Humaid AlMarri, Director-General, Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), addressing the media at the Kennedy Space Centre, said the UAE and everyone in the agency is excited about the next chapter in the country's space mission.

He said, "The UAE Astronaut Programme was launched in 2017, and this is our second mission making the UAE the 11th country globally to launch a long-duration astronaut mission to the International Space Station."

9:39pm: Everything in order

Kelvin Manning, deputy director at Kennedy Space Centre, said teams are gathered and everything is in order for the scheduled lift-off on Sunday at 11.07am (UAE time).

9.37: Crew lands at Kennedy Space Centre

The crew flying on Nasa’s SpaceX Crew-6 mission arrived at Kennedy Space Centre in preparation for the upcoming launch.

9pm: 'Have a safe trip'

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) bid farewell to Crew6. In a Twitter post, it updated the movement of the team and said that the crew departed Houston this morning after completing months of training with

They are currently on their way to Kennedy Space Centre, where their launch is targeted for Feb. 26 at 2:07 am EST.

UAE astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi (L), Mission Specialist, Primary Crew, Crew-6, heading to the Kennedy Space Center, 5 days before the launch of the mission. Photo: Nasa
UAE astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi (L), Mission Specialist, Primary Crew, Crew-6, heading to the Kennedy Space Center, 5 days before the launch of the mission. Photo: Nasa

20.53pm: Nasa prepares for the launch

Nasa astronauts Stephen Bowen, commander; Woody Hoburg, pilot; and mission specialists astronaut Al Neyadi and Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev will land at Kennedy’s Launch and Landing Facility at 9.30pm UAE time.

"Upon arrival, they will be greeted by Nasa leaders before conducting a brief interview with media," Nasa said in a blog post.

Photo: MBR Space Centre
Photo: MBR Space Centre

Bowen, Hoburg, Al Neyadi, and Fedyaev are slated to lift off from Kennedy’s Launch Complex 39A aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft Endeavour carried by a Falcon 9 rocket.

Al Neyadi will spend 180 days on the International Space Station and conduct several experiments.


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