'I salute you': UAE astronaut's father dedicates heartfelt poem to him before spaceflight

Saif Al Neyadi is in Florida to watch his son blast off into space

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The father of UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi has dedicated a heartfelt poem to his son before he takes off on a six-month mission to the International Space Station.

In his first public address since his son was selected for the mission, Saif Al Neyadi said he “salutes” him and that he will “be proud of him for the rest of his life”.

Dr Al Neyadi, 41, and his three crew mates are set to blast off on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Monday from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida as part of the Crew-6 mission.

His family, including his father, children, cousins and friends, arrived at the launch city on Friday.

“These verses are for my special son, astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi,” Mr Al Neyadi said of the poem, which was shared on Twitter by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre.

“I recited Quran for you — to be safe on Earth and beyond.

“Your education and perseverance guided you, and that’s the path you chose.

“You shine for me at the station. Show your flag and pray.

“You have a bright future and glory. Raise your country's name up high.

“Loyal and kept your promise. Glory isn’t for everyone.

“I salute you and I’ll be proud of you for the rest of my life.”

Dr Al Neyadi was born and raised in Al Ain and has six children.

His father and brothers also attended the launch of the UAE’s first mission to the space station in 2019, in which Dr Al Neyadi was the backup for astronaut Hazza Al Mansouri.

The Crew-6 astronauts completed a rehearsal for launch day early on Friday morning, donning their SpaceX pressure suits, riding their Teslas to the launch pad and boarding an unfuelled rocket.

SpaceX also completed a crucial ground test of its rocket — a static fire test — before the launch.

Now, a launch-readiness review will be carried out by Nasa and SpaceX that will determine whether the launch will go ahead on time.

The backup launch dates are February 28 and from March 2 to 4.

The Weather Squadron at US Space Force said the launch on Monday had 95 per cent favourable weather conditions.

Updated: February 24, 2023, 8:56 PM