UAE astronauts learn to operate International Space Station’s robotic arm

Tool used to capture supply cargo vehicles

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Emirati astronauts are learning how to operate the International Space Station’s robotic arm to capture cargo vehicles in future missions.

Hazza Al Mansouri, the first UAE astronaut to fly into space, and reserve astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi are receiving the training as part of a 30-month course at the Nasa Johnson Space Centre in Houston.

Astronauts on the space station use the Canadarm2 robotic arm to capture the Cygnus spacecraft, a cargo supply vehicle, which holds food and science experiments.

“During the Cygnus cargo vehicle capture exercise, we simulate the use of the Canadian robotic arm or SSRMS in a special laboratory. The operation is very critical and requires extra attention to avoid collision with the International Space Station (ISS),” Dr Al Neyadi said.

“The cargo vehicle is loaded with food and science experiments as well as necessary items to maintain the station.”

Maj Al Mansouri became the first Arab to go to the ISS in 2019 when he spent eight days there.

The UAE’s two new astronauts, Mohammad Al Mulla and first Arab female astronaut Nora Al Matrooshi, will begin their training in Houston in January.

The instruction includes learning how to operate the systems on the ISS, performing spacewalks, training on supersonic jets and learning the Russian language.

Once graduated, all four will qualify for Nasa-led missions.

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Updated: September 14, 2021, 9:55 AM