UAE astronaut's crew mates excited to eat Emirati food in space
Moscow - Skripochka, who is going to be the commander on this Soyuz MS-15 mission, said he was "very impressed" by Al Mansoori.
If there is one activity that UAE astronaut Hazza Al Mansoori's crew mates are looking forward to doing on board the International Space Station, that's eating Emirati food.
Al Mansoori and his colleagues, American astronaut Jessica Meir and Russian commander Oleg Skripochka, were speaking at a final Press conference in Star City, Russia, on Thursday before heading to Baikonur in Kazakhstan on September 10. "I'm very excited about eating Emirati food. We got to try it and it tastes amazing," said Meir. "I love good food, and I really enjoy Russian and Emirati food."
Skripochka, who is going to be the commander on this Soyuz MS-15 mission, said he was "very impressed" by Al Mansoori after seeing how "hard-working" he is and how fast he and Meir picked up the Russian language. The spacecraft's controls are in Russian and astronauts are required to learn the language in order to operate the machine.
Al Mansoori briefly spoke in Russian at the Press conference, thanking the officials at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre for supporting him during his year-long training period. He and his crew recently passed their final exam and received an 'excellent' mark.
"There are a lot of things running through my mind as the launch date gets closer. It's just 20 days left from now," Al Mansoori said. "I am prepared for this mission. But I feel like I've been ready for this since my childhood, from how my parents raised me to the confidence I gained from the leadership of our country, the support from my colleague Sultan.
"Thanks also to my previous my job as an F16 pilot, where I gained a lot of experience and knowledge which helped me in the selection round."
Meir, who also works as a marine biologist and will be the flight engineer on this mission, said she has been impressed by Hazza and his back-up Sultan Al Neyadi since she met them for the first time last year. "For me, it has really been an honour to be part of this historic and truly international crew. We have a very experienced cosmonaut and we have, for the very first time in history, the first astronaut from the UAE," she said.
"I was very impressed with Hazza and Sultan when I first met them last year when I was training as back-up. What really struck me was how enthusiastic and genuine they were. You could tell that everything they did was extremely from their hearts. They meant everything they did and were incredibly devoted to it."
Al Mansoori's name has been written on the mission patch in Arabic. On September 10, a farewell ceremony will be held for the crew in Russia and then they will go to Baikonur.
They will stay in quarantine all the way up until their launch on September 25, which will be at 5.56pm UAE time from Baikonur Cosmodrome.