UAE: Who is Sultan AlNeyadi, Emirati astronaut to soon make history aboard the ISS?

He will be the first Arab astronaut to spend 6 months at the space station


Nandini Sircar

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Sultan AlNeyadi
Sultan AlNeyadi

Published: Mon 25 Jul 2022, 5:25 PM

Last updated: Mon 25 Jul 2022, 6:28 PM

Sultan AlNeyadi will make history by being the first astronaut from the Arab world to spend six months on the football-field sized International Space Station (ISS).

The Emirati will be part of a mission that will commence in early 2023.

With this, the UAE will become the 11th country in the world to send a long-term mission to space — a notable feat given the fact that the country is relatively new in the sector.

Who is Sultan AlNeyadi?

Sultan Al Neyadi was a back-up for Hazzaa AlMansoori in the country’s first scientific mission to the International Space Station (ISS), on 25 September 2019.

He was awarded the Nasa astronaut silver pin in May 2022 along with his colleague Hazzaa (who received a gold pin) indicating the readiness for missions to the ISS and beyond.

The silver pins are awarded to those who have completed their training and are yet to fly to space.

Training in preparation for Nasa missions: What will he do on the ISS?

AlNeyadi has undergone a 20-month long rigorous training for the Nasa-SpaceX Crew-6 mission, which is going to be a six-month trip to the orbiting laboratory.

His training entailed learning to perform spacewalks, using the systems of the ISS, operating the station’s robotic arm Canadarm2 as well as conducting other robotic and space station operations.

During his stay in the station, AlNeyadi will be performing many scientific experiments and will be leading educational campaigns for the youth in the Arab world.

He will be a mission specialist, alongside Nasa astronauts Stephen Bowen, who is a United States navy submariner and the spacecraft commander, and ‎Warren Hoburg‎, who is selected as part of the Artemis Program for a lunar mission in 2024 and will be serving as Dragon’s pilot, on the SpaceX Crew-6 mission.

What is SpaceX Crew-6 mission?

The Commercial Crew Program (CCP) provides commercially-operated crew transportation service to and from the ISS under contract to NASA.

The team will be conducting crew rotations between the expeditions of the International Space Station program.

American space manufacturer SpaceX began providing service in 2020, using the Crew Dragon spacecraft.

Astronaut training in 2018 at Moscow

AlNeyadi began his training in September 2018, at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre at Star City in Moscow, Russia.

He also received training in Houston in Texas, and Cologne in Germany, as part of partnership agreements with major space agencies, including NASA, ESA, and JAXA.

Topics included training on AlNeyadi’s 2019 scientific mission (for which Maj Hazzaa was selected eventually) briefing him through comprehensive training on all sections and units of the ISS and how to use its devices and equipment, emergency fire drills, dealing with low pressure and ammonia leak inside the station.

Additionally, he received survival training if the capsule had to land in a cold forest. He also trained with the spacesuit (weighing up to 10 kilograms) and how to wear it in zero gravity.

The training also involved performing daily tasks such as preparing food, how to use the camera to document events, taking pictures of the Earth, communicating with the ground stations, and other day-to-day tasks during the mission.

AlNeyadi underwent more than 90 courses, with the total number of training hours exceeding 1,400 hours.

Early life and education

He was born on May 23, 1981, in Umm Ghafa, 30 kilometers southeast of Al Ain, in Abu Dhabi.

Following his father’s footsteps, AlNeyadi joined the armed forces and was assigned to study Communications Engineering.

He began his higher education in the UK, and received a bachelor’s degree of Science in Electronics and Communications Engineering from the University of Brighton in the UK.

He returned to the UAE and began serving for the Armed Forces.

In 2008, he resumed his passion for education by heading to Australia to receive his Master’s degree in IT, from Griffith University in Australia.

AlNeyadi then worked as Network Security Engineer for the UAE Armed Forces, and visited more than 20 countries around the world.

In 2012, he returned to Australia for five years, where he earned a PHD in Information Technology (Data Leak age Prevention) and published six research papers in international websites.

In 2017, AlNeyadi was one of the two selected astronauts in the UAE Astronaut Programme, launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed forces.

He was selected from over 4,000 more candidates, following a series of mental and physical tests in the UAE and beyond.


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