Excitement peaks as 10-day space countdown begins
Dubai - The astronauts have a strict schedule until launch day, September 25.
The UAE's mission to space has reached its 10-day countdown and the excitement is building as space officials from Dubai and Nasa will start arriving at the launch city, Baikonur in Kazakhstan, soon.
The S61 Expedition crew - the first Emirati astronaut Hazza Al Mansoori, American astronaut Jessica Meir and Russian commander Oleg Skripochka - have been in Baikonur since September 10 and are staying at the Cosmonaut Hotel, a facility exclusive to astronauts and cosmonauts who are under quarantine.
They've been re-taking some of the medical tests they underwent for one year at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Russia's Star City, including the brutal rotating chair and tilting table.
Al Mansoori and his back-up Sultan Al Neyadi have been posting their experiences in Baikonur on their official Instagram page, some of which show visuals of the astronauts visiting the Baikonur Cosmodrome Museum; trying on their space suits; Al Mansoori sitting inside the Soyuz spacecraft with his crew; and Al Neyadi being playful as he performs jiu-jitsu in his Sokol suit.
The astronauts have a strict schedule until launch day, September 25. On September 12, they raised the UAE flag in Baikonur. On September 18, they will be checking their spacecraft, doing manual convergence training, taking part in a sports game, preparing for space flight factors and vestibular training, as well as participating in Russia's traditional tree-planting ceremony.
Though Al Mansoori remains extremely busy with the launch preparations, he will get to see his family and loved ones a few hours before liftoff. He hasn't seen his wife and four kids since early August, however, it's confirmed they will be there to bid farewell to him as he makes history for the UAE.
"My family supported me through this whole process. I want to thank my wife and kids for supporting me through this entire journey. I'd like to thank my parents because I'm here because of them. They raised me well and gave me this passion and confidence to pursue interesting paths in life," Al Mansoori told Khaleej Times during an interview at Star City earlier this month.
A family photo is among one of the personal items Al Mansoori will be taking with him.
When asked what will be going through his mind as he sits inside the tight space of the Soyuz spacecraft, with tonnes of explosives beneath him, listening to the countdown until liftoff, he said: "I am really nervous, but we are prepared. I've been through a lot of trainings in the past months and I'm prepared for this mission. Going through the whole process itself is something I cannot describe."