We have so much to learn, says UAE space chief after Emirati reaches orbit

Director general of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre looks forward to the knowledge to be gained from the mission

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The UAE's latest venture into space will provide a valuable learning opportunity, with six months' worth of experiments ahead, the director general of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre said.

Salem Al Marri, in charge of the centre since December 2021, said the scientific studies conducted during Sultan Al Neyadi’s time on board the International Space Station will offer a valuable insight into the effects of space on the human body.

Dr Al Neyadi, the second Emirati in space, is now in orbit around Earth and on course to dock at the International Space Station.

“There is much we are hoping to learn from this mission,” Mr Al Marri said.

“There will be a lot of human life sciences with more than 20 different experiments with UAE universities and international universities so this is something really big for us.

“We will have an in-depth education programme where we will try to reach every school in the UAE through simple experiments and YouTube videos.

“There will be live chats with astronauts [too], so we are excited for this six month mission.”

The SpaceX Falcon 9 lifted off with Dr Al Neyadi on board on Thursday. Docking is expected at the ISS on Friday at 10.17am UAE time, and hatch opening at 11.55am.

His fellow astronaut and friend Hazza Al Mansouri said it was the perfect night to launch into space.

Interviewed live on Nasa TV alongside Mr Al Marri, Maj Al Mansouri said the long wait was finally over after technical issues forced the launch to be delayed by three days.

Speaking before the launch, Maj Al Mansouri said he could relate to what the astronauts would be anticipating the most.

“Sultan is super excited about this launch as it will be his first mission, and Woody’s [Warren 'Woody' Hoburg], so they can’t wait to experience the weightlessness and start conducting science experiments,” said Maj Al Mansouri, who watched from the sidelines in Florida before the re-scheduled launch.

“It is a beautiful night for launch so hopefully it will happen. We are looking forward to seeing them floating.”

After lift-off, Mak Al Mansouri reflected on his first experience of a space launch as an observer.

"This is the first rocket launch I've ever seen, and I'm at a loss for words to express how happy I am to see my brother Sultan soar through the heavens," Maj Al Mansouri wrote on Twitter.

Updated: March 02, 2023, 11:48 AM