UAE astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi in high spirits, says AlMansoori

Hazza, who had a chance to speak to him, says, 'He called me two days ago. He was really happy just to feel the weightlessness, to float, to be in space'


Nandini Sircar

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Courtesy: Nasa
Courtesy: Nasa

Published: Mon 6 Mar 2023, 5:47 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Mar 2023, 6:34 PM

The International Space Station’s (ISS) new resident, Emirati astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi is in high spirits and is excited to experience weightlessness, said the UAE's first astronaut.

Speaking to Khaleej Times exclusively on the sidelines of the 17th International Conference on Space Operations (SpaceOps 2023) in Dubai, was AlNeyadi's colleague, buddy and brother, Colonel Hazzaa AlMansoori, who went to space in 2019.

Dr AlNeyadi who blasted off to the ISS on Thursday, is now a flight engineer after reaching there on Friday and a vital crewmember in ensuring the overall mission success.

A couple of days ago, Col AlMansoori who had a chance to speak to Dr AlNeyadi, says: “He called me two days ago. He was excited. He was really happy just to feel the weightlessness…just to achieve his dream, to float, to be in space and to conduct science. So, he's really excited about it. He is in high spirits, and he just wants to start work. He's really doing great. He talked with his family. We have a lot of means onboard the station, to communicate with the ground.

“it brought a lot of memories of my launch when I saw Sultan launch into space. I felt like I was there with him. We were selected and trained together from the beginning. So, it was a long journey for both of us to reach this stage… and watch my brother and he's really my brother, we started this journey together. So, just to watch him launching into space… I felt like I'm over the moon and hopefully one day I will be there,” he added.

Colonel AlMansoori who will be going back to Houston shortly after SpaceOps 2023 said: “I'm here just for two days for SpaceOps. I am going to go back to the US, to support Sultan and the mission in general.”

'Adaptation week'

Revealing further what Dr AlNeyadi is doing this week onboard the orbiting laboratory he said: “This is the adaptation week which is the same as the handover week.”

“From next week it's going to be a more rigorous and condensed scheduled for him in terms of doing science experiments, maintaining the station, dealing with different situations just to make sure they are ready for the six months ahead of them. Handover is the same as adaptation week, because next week, around March 9, Crew 5 will come back.”

He explained that while conditions are simulated on the ground during the intense astronaut training programme, the picture is different when things are done in space.

“This handover is important because though we are trained on the ground, there is a difference between the mock (on the ground) and the real situation in the station itself. Each Crew has their own touch and ways of arranging things inside the space station. So, the exiting crew helps the new crew in handing over and ensuring that they are aware about these changes. Besides, it's also a lot about safety briefings.

Meanwhile, Colonel AlMansoori also said that Dr Hanan Al Suwaidi will be taking care of AlNeyadi for the next six months while he remains outside of the Earth’s atmosphere.

“They (Crew 6) are going to adapt to microgravity, they're going to make sure that everything is good. In the first week, a daily communication takes place with flight surgeons. We have Dr Hanan who is responsible for Sultan’s medical status. A lot of people get space motion sickness, so they are given medication to overcome it. We have pills and other medications up there. She was with me in the first mission and she's also with us in the second mission as well.”

Shedding further light on the history-making mission, Al Mansoori underlined such missions are ultimately aimed at building national capabilities and competencies, raising the economic contribution to diversifying the national economy, and consolidating the UAE’s position in the space sector with a larger goal to serve humanity.

He noted: “Our objective in general is to establish a space ecosystem not only to prepare astronauts but to prepare people on ground… how to deal with the human spaceflight, how to prepare our flight surgeons, how to prepare our administration folks and how to deal with human space flights/missions in general.”


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