UAE's first astronaut to serve as backup on Sultan Al Neyadi's 6-month mission to ISS

Emirates' second batch of astronauts are undergoing training at the Johnson Space Centre in Houston


Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Sun 25 Sep 2022, 2:21 PM

Last updated: Mon 26 Sep 2022, 11:15 AM

Hazza Al Mansoori, the first Emirati in space, will act as a backup crew for his colleague Sultan Al Neyadi, when the latter embarks on a historic six month mission to the ISS. The news comes on the third anniversary of UAE’s first space mission.

In a video tweeted by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) to mark the occasion, Al Mansoori, says, “In a few months in 2023, Sultan will take on the first Arab long duration astronaut mission. [He] will launch to space and I will be a backup crew member.”

Sultan Al Neyadi says, “On this day three years ago, Hazza Al Mansoori launched to space while all our hearts followed him to the launchpad.”

Al Neyadi was a backup crew member when Hazza Al Mansoori scripted history becoming the first Arab on the International Space Station (ISS). In 2023, he will go into space for a new mission. Last month, images released by Nasa had shown former IT professional Al Neyadi in a SpaceX astronaut suit inside a Crew Dragon capsule.

In the same video, Hazza Al Mansoori tells us more about the new mission. “In a few months in 2023, Sultan will take on the first Arab long duration astronaut mission. [He] will launch to space and I will be a backup crew member.”

Abu Dhabi-born Al Mansoori graduated in 2004 from Khalifa bin Zayed Air College and was a major in the United Arab Emirates Air Force before becoming an astronaut. He was selected by Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre and underwent training at Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre.

New space missions

Since the mission that took Al Mansoori to the ISS, the UAE has made multiple strides in its space program. Some of the upcoming projects are:

Six month long ISS mission: Sultan Al Neyadi will be part of a Nasa mission that will take off in the spring of 2023 and spend six months on the ISS. This will be the UAE’s second mission to the space station and the Arab world’s first long-duration space mission. With the mission, the UAE will become the 11th country in history to send a long-term mission to space — a milestone achievement considering that the country is relatively new in the sector.

Astronaut candidate selection class: Emirati astronauts Mohammad Al Mulla and Nora Al Matrooshi joined the next ASCAN class (Astronaut Candidate Selection) and continue to undergo training alongside ‘2021 NASA Astronaut Candidate Class’. The training is part of the Reimbursable Space Act Agreement Nasa signed with the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) last year.

Moon mission: In July, the UAE had announced that its mission to the moon is on track for launch in November this year. Japan-based ispace inc, with whom the MBRSC has signed a contract to provide payload delivery services for the Emirates Lunar Mission, had said that its Mission 1 (M1) will blast off on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida.

Meanwhile astronauts Mohammad AlMulla and Nora AlMatrooshi are continuing to undergo their training at the Johnson Space Centre in Houston, USA in five major categories including training for spacewalks, developing complex robotics skills.

The first female Arab astronaut, 28-year-old Al Matrooshi is a mechanical engineer from the United Arab Emirates University who always had a passion for space from a young age. She aspires to develop the space sector in the UAE further and ultimately land on the moon onboard an Emirati spacecraft.

34-year-old Al Mulla was the youngest pilot in Dubai Police to have ever obtained a commercial pilot license. He is also a holder of a flight instructor license from the Australian Civil Aviation Authority.

Earlier this year, UAE's first analogue astronaut Saleh Al emerged after completing his eight-month-long isolation mission as part of the first UAE Analog Astronaut mission at the NEK ground-based analogue facility in Moscow, Russia.


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