UAE astronaut in 'perfect health' for space flight

UAE astronaut in perfect health for space flight
Al Mansoori, a former military fighter pilot, will be blasting off to the International Space Station (ISS) on September 25.- Supplied photo

Moscow - Al Mansoori aced several crucial medical exams, the experts have said.



By Sarwat Nasir (Reporting from Moscow)

Published: Tue 3 Sep 2019, 7:00 PM

Last updated: Tue 3 Sep 2019, 10:13 PM

Russian doctors who look after astronauts have revealed that Hazza Al Mansoori proved the be the "fittest" among all the candidates during the selection process for the UAE's first astronaut.
Al Mansoori aced several crucial medical exams, the experts have said.
Khaleej Times was on the ground at the Yuri Gagarin Training Centre (GCTC) in Moscow, where Emirati astronaut Al Mansoori and his back-up, Sultan Al Neyadi, have spent over an year training and taking medical exams.
Al Mansoori, a former military fighter pilot, will be blasting off to the International Space Station (ISS) on September 25 at 5.56pm (UAE time).
Dr Irina Konovalova, the functional diagnosis lead at GCTC, said Al Mansoori was the first candidate from the UAE Astronaut Programme to pass the critical 'rotating chair' test, which aims to familiarise the aspiring astronauts with space-motion sickness so their bodies can learn how to combat it.
"Al Mansoori passed this test. He was actually the first one to pass it from the UAE," she said. "They are required to train on it frequently to help their bodies adapt to the feeling of weightlessness."
Another doctor, Dr Tatiyana Ivanovskaya, said Al Mansoori also conquered the 'tilting table', which tilts a person at different degrees to determine how his or her body will react in zero gravity.
Sometimes, the tilting table is done inside rooms mimicking extreme weather conditions - for example in -15 degrees Celsius for six minutes and then in -40 degrees Celsius for another six minutes.
"This helps us measure how a human's organs will react to the blood rushing to his or her brain," she said.
"We can also determine how their bodies will adapt to earth once they are back. Hazza performed very well and all of his results were normal."
Not your usual exam
One brutal exam cosmonauts are required to take at GCTC is the 'silent room', where a person is put into isolation for 64 hours and required to solve puzzles, carry out tasks he or she would do on the ISS, and even speak to himself.
Therapists who would be monitoring the person from outside will determine the cosmonaut's mental state. Currently, this test is available only to Russian cosmonauts.
Al Mansoori and Al Neyadi have re-taken the 'pressure chamber' test this year. They passed the initial one they took, however, it's meant to be repeated before a flight.
Dr Dimitry Lutsevich, physical therapist at GCTC, said: "The pressure chamber will see how certain body parts of an astronaut are reacting to different levels of altitude. For Al Mansoori and Al Neyadi, we lifted them 5,000m above sea level in their initial exam and then 10,000m this year. Their bodies have reacted normally, and Hazza is ready for his flight."
Crucial tests astronauts have to pass
>Rotating chair test
Aims to familiarise astronauts with space-motion sickness so their bodies can learn how to combat it
>Tilting table
Tilts the person at different degrees to determine how his or her body will react in zero gravity. Sometimes, it is done inside rooms mimicking extreme weather conditions
>Pressure chamber test this year
Determines how certain body parts of an astronaut are reacting to different levels of altitude
Inside the Soyuz spacecraft
In a special GCTC tour, Khaleej Times got to explore the replicas of the Russian Soyuz spacecraft that Hazza Al Mansoori will be traveling in to reach the ISS.
It's a very tight space with only three seats for astronauts.
There was also a mock-up of the ISS' Russian segment, where Al Mansoori will be residing in during his eight-day trip there.
Each seat on the Soyuz spacecraft is sold at different prices, depending on which country is purchasing it from Roscosmos, the Russian Space Agency.
Previous reports have shown that a single seat is sold to Nasa for about $90 million.
KT has earlier quoted an official from the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) - the entity responsible for the UAE Astronaut Programme - who revealed that they got "a very good deal" from Russia because of the two countries' "strong relations".
sarwat@khaleejtimes.com


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