Revealed: date set for first Emirati astronaut's trip to the ISS

Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre says September 25 will be the launch date of the first Emirati astronaut's trip to the International Space Station
Revealed: date set for first Emirati astronaut's trip to the ISS
Hazzaa Al Mansoori and Sultan Al Neyadi, the first two Emirati astronauts from the UAE Astronaut Programme.
By Sam Bridge
Mon 25 Feb 2019 02:23 PM

The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) on Monday announced that September 25 will be the launch date of the first Emirati astronaut’s trip to the International Space Station (ISS).

The announcement came during a press conference held by MBRSC that featured Hazzaa Al Mansoori and Sultan Al Neyadi, the first two Emirati astronauts from the UAE Astronaut Programme.

The UAE Astronaut Programme was launched by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, in 2017, to train and prepare Emirati astronauts to travel to space on various scientific missions.

Yousuf Hamad Al Shaibani, director general of MBRSC, said that one of the astronauts will fly to ISS on September 25 for an eight-day Russian space mission to ISS aboard a Soyuz-MS 15 spacecraft and will travel back aboard a Soyuz-MS 12.

The second astronaut will continue training for future missions, he added.

“Announcing this date is a milestone and a great achievement for the entire Arab region. For the first time, an Arab astronaut will travel to ISS so that Arab youth can repeat the accomplishments of their ancestors who excelled in science and mathematics," he said.

"This step also supports the aspirations of Emiratis, and their determination to achieve the vision of the UAE’s leadership, and support the UAE in exploring space and preparing national cadres to contribute to enriching scientific progress, serving humanity and promoting more achievements in the industry."

The date of the flight was postponed from April to September following a launch accident of the Soyuz-MS 10 spacecraft in October.

Salem Al Marri, assistant director general for Scientific and Technical Affairs and head of the UAE Astronaut Programme at MBRSC, added: "The astronauts’ safety is at the top of our list of priorities, so the date was postponed to 25 September. We are pleased that the mission to ISS will take place this year, despite the obstacles faced by our partners at the Russian space agency Roscosmos.

“The astronaut will conduct research in various fields to be shared with the international scientific community to show the effect of zero gravity on research experiments, compared to gravity on Earth... This is the first time this kind of research will be done by an astronaut from the Arab region.”

Al Mansoori and Al Neyadi were selected from a total 4,022 candidates who applied to the UAE Astronaut Programme.

Since the year 2000, the space station has been continually occupied, with over 220 people spending time there from 17 countries.

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