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UAE astronaut to be the last to lift off from historic launch pad

UAE, astronaut, last, lift off, historic, launch pad

Dubai - Al Mansoori and his crew are bidding farewell to Russia as they depart for Baikonur, Kazakhstan, on September 10.

By Sarwat Nasir

Published: Tue 10 Sep 2019, 6:00 PM

Last updated: Tue 10 Sep 2019, 8:16 PM

The UAE astronaut and his crew are going to be the last astronauts to lift off from the same launch pad that was used to send the world's first man, Yuri Gagarin, into space in 1961.
The historic site is popularly known as 'Site 1' or 'Gagarin's Launch Pad'. It was also used in launching the world's first satellite, Sputnik, in 1957, as well as the world's first woman astronaut Valentina Tereshkova a few years later.
However, it is being closed after the Soyuz MS-15 mission, which includes Emirati astronaut Hazza Al Mansoori, American flight engineer Jessica Meir and Russian commander Oleg Skripochka.
"We will be launching from the Yuri Gagarin launch pad and this will be the last launch from that pad. It's really amazing how fate is working out. The Arabic meaning of my name is the last arrow and I'll be on the last rocket that will be launching from that pad. I'm honoured to conduct this mission," Al Mansoori had told Khaleej Times during a one-on-one interview in Star City, Russia.
After the last mission on Gagarin's Launch Pad, all future crew launches will take place from Site 31, which can support Russia's new Soyuz 2 rocket.
Al Mansoori and his crew are bidding farewell to Russia as they depart for Baikonur, Kazakhstan, on September 10.
They will take part in pre-launch ceremonies that have been a long-run tradition at the Russian space agency, Roscosmos.
Some of these ceremonies include raising their country's flag two days after reaching Baikonur, taking part in a sports game, and planting trees - all traditions that have been followed since the days of Gagarin.
From September 12 onwards, the crew will remain under quarantine at the Cosmonaut Hotel to ensure they don't get exposed to harmful bacteria.
They will leave their hotel next on September 24 to hold a Press conference, but from behind a glass wall.
The next day - the launching day - they will leave their hotel several hours prior to liftoff time for a final public appearance, wearing their suits at another location, and then, they will be taken to the launch site.
They will be launching to the International Space Station (ISS) on September 25 at 5.56pm, UAE time.

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