UAE astronaut to stream videos of him offering prayers during space mission
UAE astronaut Hazzaa AlMansouri gestures as he gives a press conference at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.- AFP
When asked what he hopes to achieve from this Soyuz MS-15 mission, he said he wants to inspire the youth.
The UAE's first astronaut Hazzaa AlMansoori will livestream videos of him offering the traditional Islamic prayer while on the International Space Station (ISS). During the crew's final Press conference ahead of the blast-off later today, AlMansoori - a former military fighter jet pilot - revealed how he used to pray while flying his jet and that he is all set to perform the prayer onboard the ISS during his eight-day stay.
This came during the routine pre-launch Press conference, which crews hold a day prior to liftoff to answer any pressing questions from the media regarding their mission. It is during this conference that Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, confirmed that Hazzaa's mission will launch at 5.57pm, UAE time.
"For the prayer, we have flexibility for this in our religion. As a fighter pilot, I already used to pray in my aircraft. I use to fly with high speed and pray. It's not something that's new to me, but it will be different while on the ISS. It's a different scenario. I will be recording this and show everyone how I will pray while just pointing to Earth. I will share it with everyone," AlMansoori, 35, said.
When asked what he hopes to achieve from this Soyuz MS-15 mission, he said he wants to inspire the youth. "I have good connection with my kids. I know it gives hope for the next generation so they can work hard. I will do well in this mission and I will come back for my kids."
AlMansoori's crew also complimented him on his journey so far. Jessica Meir, the American flight engineer for this mission, said he has brought a lot of enthusiasm and motivation during their training.
The Runglish language
"Something I said to our families last night was that we complement each other as a crew. Oleg is very calm and quiet. I'm very active. Hazzaa brings the enthusiasm to the table and he has the perfect background of being a military pilot. But he also brings the sense of motivation and it helps us smile together. We all speak 'runglish' (informal way of saying Russian and English) as well and we get by with it.
"It has truly been a pleasure to work with this international crew and it's been a very dynamic experience, especially as it's a first for a country and doesn't happen as often as it should. When my colleagues at NASA ask how are Sultan and Hazzaa, I always respond by saying that they are amazing and they would fit perfectly at our office. It's true they would fit perfectly into any of our astronaut corps or programme, which is quite an achievement given that their programme is quite new. They are a natural fit."
During the conference, AlMansoori thanked his four kids, his wife, Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) staff and his instructor from the UAE military, most of whom were present at the Press conference.
When asked how he was feeling about the launch, he said: "I'm speechless. I cannot describe my feelings as the launch gets closer. Thanks to the wise leadership of our country to be part of this international cooperation and be part of a discovery onboard the station."
We are trained for the worst
Hazzaa AlMansoori opened up about memorable moments during his training period.
"A funny moment during our training (sessions) was that we had been training on the ISS mock up and we were doing the daily routine and simulating what we will have to do on the station.
"I was a little alert because I knew there will be an emergency scenario, so I got it first and got up to my commander and shouted 'fire' and we distributed our masks. It was fast reaction and we saved time. It was really interesting and we are expecting anything on the station. We are trained for the worst and we hope for the worst."
The Soyuz FG rocket and spacecraft has been put into position and has been refueled. According to Russian tradition, it has also been blessed by an Orthodox pope.