Sultan Al Neyadi speaks to Dubai pupils live from space

Emirati astronaut took part in question and answer session with children at Jumeirah College

Pupils at Jumeirah College in Dubai listen to UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi during his live call from the International Space Station. Pawan Singh / The National
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Emirati astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi has joined lessons at a Dubai school live from space.

Dr Al Neyadi took a break from his duties on board the International Space Station on Tuesday to share his experiences with pupils at Jumeirah College in a special long distance call.

The UAE's latest space traveller arrived on the orbiting science laboratory on Friday, beginning a milestone six-month mission.

Dr Al Neyadi, 41, is the second Emirati to travel into space ― after Hazza Al Mansouri's eight-day stay on the ISS in 2019 — and the first Arab to undertake a long stay.

He fielded 17 questions from enthusiastic pupils eager to hear about life among the stars.

“For me the biggest entertainment is floating. Floating is amazing,” Dr Al Neyadi told the audience.

He was responding to a question from Sasha Joseph, a Year 8 pupil who asked how he keeps himself entertained.

He was also asked what inspired him to become an astronaut.

"I think it is the sense of exploration ... which is probably one of the most important thing that need to be when thinking of becoming an astronaut," Dr Al Neyadi said.

UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi answers Dubai pupils’ questions from space

UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi answers Dubai pupils’ questions from space

Emirati pupil Omar Fikri was happy to have the opportunity to speak to the nation's new hero.

“I asked about what type of work and research do you do in space,” said the Year 11 pupil.

“I had a sense of excitement because I asked it to someone on the ISS who’s from my own country.”

The out-of-this-world chat was organised by science teacher Christopher Greenfield, who started his education career at Nasa’s International Space School in Houston.

Pupils gathered in the school's sports hall to quiz the astronaut.

“Ariss (Amateur Radio on the International Space Station) is an organisation which allows the opportunity for school students around the world to speak to the astronauts on board the ISS,” said Mr Greenfield.

“Students are fascinated with space exploration, and having the opportunity to speak with astronauts inspires our students to ask truly thought-provoking questions.

“I applied to Ariss for this event in March 2022, knowing that this would be an amazing event which would add a unique dimension to our students’ regular studies.

“I have been involved in seven previous ARISS events in Wales, Kuwait and USA over the past 20 years.”

Robert Kesterton, principal of the school, said pupils would cherish their memories of talking to an astronaut in space.

“It’s a huge honour for us,” said Mr Kesterton.

“We feel ourselves part of the Dubai community. We are one of the old, mature schools.

“For our students to have this opportunity to speak to an Emirati astronaut on the ISS is a memory these students will live with forever.

“It’s an opportunity I certainly never had at school. We never had the technology that would have enabled this.”

Many more pupils across the Emirates will share in Dr Al Neyadi's remarkable journey in the months ahead.

Live streams and pre-recorded videos will be broadcast each week to hundreds of schools in the country, in which Dr Al Neyadi will share what life in space is like.

The talks are part of a new educational project by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre and the Emirates Literature Foundation.

Dr Al Neyadi will take part in more than 200 experiments assigned by Nasa and 19 others involving UAE universities during his mission.

He could also possibly perform the first spacewalk by an Arab astronaut.

Updated: March 07, 2023, 2:42 PM