UAE astronaut reveals the things he misses the most on Earth

Sultan AlNeyadi made the revelations as he answered questions posed by the general public during the ‘A Call from Space’ event on Tuesday


Ruqayya Al Qaydi

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Screenshot: Twitter/@Forsan_UAE
Screenshot: Twitter/@Forsan_UAE

Published: Tue 23 May 2023, 5:33 PM

Emirati astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi, who has been cruising in outer space for the last two months, misses his mother’s cooking. The International Space Station (ISS) has ready-to-eat food, including traditional Emirati staples like dates and honey, but he misses the joy of having a home-cooked meal.

This came as the astronaut answered questions posed by the general public during the ‘A Call from Space’ event on Tuesday. The United Arab Emirates University in Al Ain, in collaboration with the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), hosted the fourth installment of the series.

Lt.-General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, was among those present at the event.

Here is how AlNeyadi answered some of the key questions posed by students and others at the event.

Q. Having experienced living on Earth and in space, which one do you prefer?

Space is exciting; we can do many manoeuvers here. But over time, I miss my family and home-cooked meals. We have ready-to-eat food, but I love my mother's cooking, and that's something I miss.

Q. What do you eat daily as an astronaut?

We have a variety of food, including vegetables, meat, and even desserts that come dried or only need heating … After a while, a person can feel bored, so we try to diversify our meals and choose from the long menu we have,” AlNeyadi said.

Q. How do you dispose of waste in space?

The station is over 20 years old, and most things here are recycled, like the solar panels that provide us with energy and the air we obtain from water through advanced techniques. Such technologies and discoveries can greatly contribute if they are used on Earth in areas with air pollution, water scarcity, or other challenges.

Q. Did you face any difficulties when exiting the spacecraft during your spacewalk?

We underwent extensive training for this, and it was definitely challenging to spend seven hours outside the station. However, we have a notebook with instructions that outline our procedures, and among the things I wrote down to help me was ‘Nothing is impossible’.

It reminds me that I can do it, and this is the message of the United Arab Emirates to us and my message to all of you today: that nothing is impossible.

Q. How do you sleep in space?

In space, we don't have gravity, so anything we want to do must be secured. We have sleeping bags that keep us in one place. Sleep is different here; we don't need a pillow or a blanket.

Q. What are the qualities you need to become an astronaut?

We undergo long periods of training, so first and foremost, patience. Students should be patient with their studies and the long period of learning.

Secondly, teamwork. Here at the space station, we work as one team, just like we do on Earth in various projects, and like our countries work as a team as well.

Thirdly, belief in principles. We represent our country [both] on Earth and in space.

Q. How does it feel to be the first Emirati astronaut to stay at the ISS for six months?

You carry the flag of the country that you love. I understand that the responsibility is immense, and six months are not simple, but the noble goal I carry and its significance serve as greater motivation. The support we receive from everyone, including the leadership, family, and trainers, makes the mission easier.


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