I miss my mother's cooking, says homesick Sultan Al Neyadi on his birthday in space

Emirati astronaut says he is missing his loved ones in live call from ISS

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UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi, who celebrates his birthday on Tuesday, told his hometown Al Ain that he is missing his mother's cooking and loved ones during a live call from the International Space Station.

The father of six answered questions from his relatives and pupils, who were gathered at the UAE University for the 15-minute live call.

Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, was also attending.

Dr Al Neyadi, now 42, was speaking as part of the fourth instalment of his 'A Call from Space' initiative, in which he talks to heads of state, pupils and space enthusiasts live from orbit.

UAE's Sultan Al Neyadi 'misses his mother's cooking' as he celebrates birthday in space

UAE's Sultan Al Neyadi 'misses his mother's cooking' as he celebrates birthday in space
UAE's Sultan Al Neyadi 'misses his mother's cooking' as he celebrates birthday in space

One of the pupils at Tuesday's event asked Dr Al Neyadi if he prefers to live with or without gravity.

“You can do all kinds of moves and it's very fun,” he said, as he performed a forward roll live on the big screen, with the UAE flag raised proudly behind him.

“But with time you miss your family, your loved ones and cooked food.

“We have food here that is prepared but all of the water has been extracted from it.

“So, we as astronauts can get bored sometimes and that is why we miss the traditional food that is cooked for us. I miss my mother's cooking.”

Days before he was launched into space, Dr Al Neyadi said that one of the things he would miss the most during his six-month stay in space would be food prepared by his mother.

Dr Al Neyadi's mother watched the launch remotely from Al Ain, while his father, children, cousins and other relatives attended in-person in Florida.

Years of training

One pupil asked the astronaut how waste is managed on the ISS.

Dr Al Neyadi replied that the crew try not to produce too much waste and that most of it is recycled.

“The station has been here for more than 20 years. Everything we have here is recycled,” he said.

“We use solar panels for electricity. We generate our oxygen from water and we even recycle condensation.

“Everything is self-sustained here and there is technology that can be applied to places on earth that have a lack of energy and water.

“The activities we do here on the station have a lot of benefit for humanity.”

Another pupil asked him what it was like to do a spacewalk.

Dr Al Neyadi became the first Arab astronaut to perform a spacewalk on April 28, when he ventured outside for nearly seven hours for a maintenance assignment.

“We've been training for that moment for many years and now we got a chance to do it,” he said.

“It was a great feeling. It was difficult. We spent seven hours outside of ISS and we constantly worked to maintain the station.

“It was challenging but what kept me going was understanding the magnitude of what we're doing.”

The orbiting laboratory has 11 astronauts on board, including two Saudis who arrived on Monday for an eight-day stay.

Dr Al Neyadi welcomed Rayyanah Barnawi, the first Arab woman to go on a space mission, and Ali Al Qarni with traditional Arab hospitality by offering them dates and water.

Updated: May 23, 2023, 1:48 PM