Look: Emirati astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi completes last training before 6-month space mission

He takes to social media to share how proud he is that the walls of the lab feature the UAE flag


Nandini Sircar

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Published: Thu 16 Feb 2023, 3:00 PM

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

Emirati astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi who is headed for the ISS’s six-month mission has completed his last pre-mission training at the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory.

He was especially touched by the gesture where the walls of the laboratory were decorated by the UAE flag.

In a message posted on his Twitter handle recently, the astronaut, who is headed for the human space flight mission that’s set to take off on February 26 from Launch Complex 39A at Nasa's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, states, “Last week I completed my last pre-mission training at the NBL Buoyancy Lab with Commander Steve Bowen. What made the occasion even more beautiful was the decoration of the UAE flag on the wall of the laboratory, along with the main partners of the International Space Station. Unable to thank all the staff, administrators, engineers and divers in this distinguished edifice."

Earlier Al Neyadi was also seen in pictures sporting the SpaceX suit.

What is the NBL Laboratory?

According to specflightinsider.com, NASA continues to use one of its Texas-based assets to provide astronauts with training essential to the missions they conduct on-orbit. The NBL is home to the massive pool where astronauts go underwater to simulate the microgravity environment in space.

Safety divers accompany astronauts whenever they train in the NBL. The NBL measures an expansive 202 feet (61.5 metres) long, 102 feet (31 metres) wide, 40 feet (12.1 metres) deep, and contains some 6.2 million US gallons (23,469,550 litres) of water.

By comparison, an Olympic-sized pool contains a ‘mere’ 253,000 US gallons (957,700 litres). NASA purchased the structure that contains the NBL from McDonnell Douglas in the early ’90s and refurbished it to support the agency’s training objectives in 1995.

The D-Day

Seated in a Tesla, Al Neyadi along with his other three colleagues will be sent on his first crewed mission to launch from the US.

After the take off the from Launch Pad 39A on a Falcon 9 rocket, Dragon Endeavour will apparently accelerate its four crew members to approximately 17,500 mph, putting it on an intercept course with the space station.

Once in orbit, the crew and SpaceX mission control in Hawthorne, California, will monitor a series of automatic manoeuvrers.

According to NASA, once in orbit, the crew and SpaceX mission control in Hawthorne, California, will monitor a series of automatic manoeuvrers that will guide Endeavour to the space-facing port of the station’s Harmony module.

After several manoeuvrers to gradually raise its orbit, Endeavour will be in position to rendezvous and dock with its new home in orbit. The spacecraft is designed to dock autonomously, but the crew can take control and pilot manually, if necessary.

The mission

A total of 250 research experiments will be carried out during the six-month mission to the ISS, 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.

“We are subjects ourselves. We’ll have a lot of sensors on us when we do experiments. These machines log our sleep, our vascular activities, breathing and so on. There is radiation in space and loosening of muscles. How do we control (or mitigate) these things are also part of our medical experiments,” explained Al Neyadi earlier.

The four-person Crew-6 flight will mainly help Nasa prepare for crewed moon trips, and further long-duration living off Earth missions.


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