UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi to have butter chicken as last meal before spaceflight

Nasa gives green light to launch on Monday, with systems normal and weather good

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Butter lemon chicken will be the last meal UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi eats before he blasts off to the International Space Station on Monday.

Nasa and SpaceX have given the green light for the launch to go ahead at 10.45am GST, with the Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon capsule systems looking normal and weather good.

Dr Al Neyadi, 41, and his three crew mates will lift-off from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, and will dock with the ISS at 11.30am GST on Tuesday.

A pre-launch media teleconference was held on Sunday, where it scheduled the launch as a “go”.

Zeb Scoville, deputy chief flight director at Nasa, said that the crew's schedule for launch day has been fixed.

“Tomorrow they'll be waking up around 9.30am, having some time with family and enjoying a good lunch of butter lemon chicken before getting a little bit of rest and waking up and getting ready to go into space,” he said.

“So, the procedures are ready to go and the flight control team is ready to go.”

Dr Al Neyadi's family arrived in Florida on Saturday to witness him blast off into space.

His father, brother, cousins and friends greeted him from a distance at the Kennedy Space Centre Visitor Complex, as all astronauts need to isolate before a launch.

However, his children have approval from Nasa surgeons to be near him. He was seen hugging them during the family reunion.

Hazza Al Mansouri, the first Emirati in space and the backup astronaut on this mission, has been documenting Dr Al Neyadi's quarantine, including taking video of him exercising.

Hours before launch, the crew will wear their SpaceX pressure suits and exit their quarantine quarters.

Their family members and selected press, including The National, will be outside to wave them goodbye before they get into their Teslas and head to the launch pad.

Elon Musk owns SpaceX and Tesla, so it is customary for all crew to ride the electric vehicle to the rocket.

The National reports from Florida before UAE astronaut's mission to space

The National reports from Florida before UAE astronaut's mission to space

Dr Al Neyadi said last Tuesday that flying on the mission will be a “privilege”.

“I can't believe that this is really happening and you only realise that when you fly by the launch pad where you see the preparations,” he said.

“It's becoming real. So, we can't thank enough everybody that helped and prepared us for this mission.

“I think we are ready physically, mentally and technically. And we can't wait to launch to space and conduct the mission.”

He will be carrying out 19 science experiments for various UAE universities, several other experiments assigned by Nasa and doing maintenance work on the ISS, including a possible spacewalk.

He is heading to space with two Nasa astronauts, Stephen Bowen and Warren Hoburg, and Russian cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev.

The mission will make Dr Al Neyadi the first Arab astronaut to carry out a long-duration space mission.

In May, he will be joined by two Saudi astronauts, including the first Arab woman in space. Rayyanah Barnawi and Ali AlQarni are heading to the ISS for a 10-day trip.

The launch will be streamed live by SpaceX, Nasa and the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre.

Updated: February 26, 2023, 3:41 PM