All systems go: Charting UAE's spatial journey
Khaleej Times is in the launch city, Baikonur, and has been tracking Al Mansoori and his backup Sultan Al Neyadi's final activities.
September 25, 2019 is when Emirati Hazza Al Mansoori becomes the first Arab astronaut to blast off to the International Space Station. Yes, less than 48 hours remain before the launch of the UAE's first space mission and we can't believe how time has rocketed by ever since the UAE Astronaut Programme was announced almost two years ago.
Khaleej Times is in the launch city, Baikonur, and has been tracking Al Mansoori and his backup Sultan Al Neyadi's final activities as they prepare for this historic mission. As we eagerly look forward to their launch, here's a look back at their journey - all the way from the announcement of the programme to tough selection rounds to taking part in endless medical exams, psychological tests and rigorous training.
Day after tomorrow is when Emirati Hazza Al Mansoori becomes the first Arab astronaut to blast off to the International Space Station. Yes, less than 48 hours remain before the launch of the UAE's first space mission and we can't believe how time has rocketed by ever since the UAE Astronaut Programme was announced almost two years ago.
Timeline: UAE Space Mission
December 6, 2017
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, announces the launch of the UAE Astronaut Programme. It finally gave Emiratis a platform to become an astronaut for their country.
"On this day, a new chapter in our history begins with the launch of the first UAE Astronaut Programme, dedicated to sending four Emirati Astronauts into space. The people of the UAE will break new barriers; nothing can stand in the way of those who believe nothing is impossible." - Sheikh Mohammed
April 16, 2018
Over 4,000 Emiratis sign up to become astronauts.
"@MBRSpaceCentre receives more than 4,022 applications for the @UAEastronauts from Emiratis aged between 17-67 years working in 38 different occupations, of which 34% are women. An official 'Selection Committee' will screen applications & shortlist potential candidates." Dubai Media Office
June 7: Out of the 4,022 candidates, 95 are shortlisted.
July 1: Out of the 95, 39 make it to the next round after passing the physical and psychological tests.
July 4: Only 18 make it through to the next round for the final interviews.
July 11: 9 astronauts qualify for the final evaluation phase. The Russian space agency, Roscosmos, assessed them.
Sheikh Mohammed announces the names of the UAE's first two astronauts on Twitter.
"We announced today our first astronauts to the International Space Station: Hazza Al Mansouri and Sultan Al Nayadi. Hazza and Sultan represent all young Arabs and represent the pinnacle of the UAE's ambitions. Congratulations to the people and youth of the Emirates." Sheikh Mohammed
September 20: The initial launch date for the mission is announced as April 5 to 16. This was later rescheduled after another mission failed and postponed future launches.
September 20: Hazza and Sultan begin training at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Russia.
January 27, 2019
January 27: MBRSC shares photos and videos of the UAE astronauts training in simulators of zero-Gs and in the centrifuge.
February 18: The new launch date is announced by the MBRSC: September 25 to October 3.
February 25: More videos of UAE astronauts are released, this time of their training in the harsh Russian winter.
March 5: Sheikh Mohammed meets the astronauts
"With Hazza Al Mansoori and Sultan Al Neyadi, the Arab world's first astronauts to the International Space Station. They carry the dreams of our founding fathers, the ambitions of our people, and inspire our youth to raise their aspirations to the sky." Sheikh Mohammed
April 12: MBRSC announces Hazza as the primary candidate and Sultan as the back-up. Details of the mission are revealed: 16 scientific experiments, the first Arabic-language tour of the ISS, live streams and Q&A from students.
July 1: The astronauts complete 30 hours of training at the European Astronaut Centre in Germany, organised by the European Space Agency.
July 14: Hazza and Sultan begin their two-week training at NASA's Johnson Space Centre in Houston.
July 15: Hazza reveals the personal items he'll be taking to the ISS, some which include the UAE flag, a photo of the late UAE founder Sheikh Zayed meeting three American astronauts and family photos.
August 5: Halal Emirati food has been prepared for Hazza's trip to the ISS, including balaleet, madrouba and saloona.
August 26: The timing of the launch revealed for the first time: 5.56pm (UAE time).
August 30-31: The UAE astronauts carried out a mock mission as part of their final exam at GCTC. They passed with an 'excellent' mark, which means they are qualified for a space mission.
September 1-7: KT spends the week in Moscow and Star City, touring the facility the astronauts trained at. We did our final interviews with them ahead of their quarantine stage in Baikonur. Hazza spoke about his readiness for the mission and how he couldn't have done it without the support of his family.
September 10: Astronauts enter quarantine at Baikonur. They'll be living at the Cosmonaut Hotel.
September 12: The UAE flag has been raised in Baikonur by Hazza and Sultan.
September 14: The 10-day countdown begins. The astronauts are under strict schedule as they undergo medical tests and fitness exams.
September 18: They take part in the tree-planting ceremony at the Cosmonaut Alley. The first one was planted by Yuri Gagarin in 1961.
September 20: The astronauts do a final Soyuz seat check and sokol suit fitting.
September 22: The UAE flag has been put on the Soyuz spacecraft Hazza will be travelling in on September 25.