UAE astronaut ‘enjoys' 7-hour long spacewalk, successfully utilises his training

Sultan AlNeyadi took a big stride for the Arab world’s space exploration by accomplishing the first spacewalk outside the International Space Station (ISS) last Friday


Nandini Sircar

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Photo: Salem Al Marri/Twitter
Photo: Salem Al Marri/Twitter

Published: Mon 1 May 2023, 3:14 PM

Last updated: Mon 1 May 2023, 5:17 PM

Emirati astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi had a positive experience during his nascent spacewalk and was able to successfully utilise the skills he had acquired during his training.

This was revealed by a top official of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), who had an opportunity to have a short chat with the astronaut soon after ‘his walk in the void’ that made him the first spacewalking Arab in history.

With the UAE flag and the logo ‘Impossible is Possible’ emblazoned on his spacesuit sleeve, AlNeyadi took a big stride for the Arab world’s space exploration by accomplishing the first spacewalk outside the International Space Station (ISS) last Friday.

Taking to Twitter, Director-General of MBRSC, Salem Al Marri on Monday posted, “I had a brief discussion with @astro_al neyadi about his EVA mission. He mentioned that he enjoyed the spacewalk and was able to apply what he had prepared for during the training.

Excellent job Sultan. You performed exceptionally well, despite the challenges of the 7-hour mission, staying in the EVA suit for over 9 hours. Since the start of the mission, you have achieved historic milestones, and we are confident that this success will continue in the upcoming months as well.”

Al Marri hailed AlNeyadi for his perseverance because compared to how often an astronaut performs other tasks, spacewalks are relatively rare, expensive, time-consuming, and most of all, dangerous.

It was the 261st spacewalk in support of space station assembly, upgrades, and maintenance. AlNeyadi and Nasa astronaut Steve Bowen concluded their spacewalk at 12.12 am (Saturday), after 7 hours and 1 minute.

They laid cables and installed insulation on mounting brackets on the starboard truss of the station, for the installation of the next pair of International Space Station Roll Out Solar Arrays (iROSAs).

The astronauts were unable to free up an electronics box located on the truss associated with a degraded S-band communications antenna. The antenna removal was deferred to a future spacewalk ahead of its planned return to Earth.

Preparation was just as difficult

The preparation for the spacewalk started days before the space travellers went into the void. Astronauts prepared by checking every part of their suit and their tools, making sure they were both assembled and tethered properly.

To perform the spacewalks, astronauts wore a bulky suit known as the Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU), weighing 300 pounds that protected them from solar radiation, debris and extreme temperatures.

It apparently takes about 45 minutes to put on this suit, including the time it takes to put on the special undergarments that help keep astronauts cool.

Everything, including the astronauts, were tethered at all times. They mostly used their hands to get around, pulling themselves wherever they needed to go.

AlNeyadi and Bowen are in the midst of a planned six-month science mission living and working aboard the microgravity laboratory. The results of this mission could also assist in the creation of new materials, biomedical devices, and other technologies that could be utilised on upcoming space missions.


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