UAE's Sultan Al Neyadi surprised with birthday cake on space station

Emirati astronaut celebrates his 42nd birthday with a party aboard the International Space Station

UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi was surprised with a birthday cake on May 23. Photo: Sultan Al Neyadi / Twitter
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UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi was surprised with a birthday cake and other treats by his colleagues aboard the International Space Station.

Dr Al Neyadi turned 42 on Tuesday and spent some of the day celebrating with two Saudi astronauts and eight other crew members.

He also held a live call with relatives and pupils in his hometown, Al Ain, during which he spoke about missing food prepared by his mother.

"Celebrated my first birthday in space with colleagues who have become family!" Dr Al Neyadi tweeted on Thursday, with images of the party.

"Highlight of the day? A maple muffin top cake from the USA crew, a cinnamon bun with yoghurt and dry fruits from the Russian crew, topped off with wishes in Arabic.

"Truly a gravity-defying celebration!"

UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi celebrated his 42nd birthday in space with cake. Photo: Sultan Al Neyadi / Twitter

No real candle or fire was used, because that would be a safety hazard, instead they used a torch.

While there are limited food options in space, astronauts can take some traditional food items with them. Cargo resupply missions also keep the ISS pantry stocked.

However, it is most likely that the food is dehydrated, meaning all the water has been extracted from it.

This is because water is heavy and would take up too much weight on a spacecraft, as well as too much storage room on the ISS.

Astronauts add water to their food packets or reheat it to make it edible.

Meals on the ISS have improved over the years, thanks to a new oven that was installed two years ago.

Astronauts have been baking cookies and using vegetables grown on the station as part of their diet.

It is not clear if Dr Al Neyadi's cake and cinnamon bun came prepared from Earth, or were baked on the station.

Dr Al Neyadi arrived on the ISS on March 3 for a six-month science mission.

He has been taking part in science experiments and also carried out the first spacewalk by an Arab astronaut, when he ventured outside for a seven-hour maintenance assignment.

He was joined by two Saudi astronauts, Rayyanah Barnawi and Ali Al Qarni, and two Americans on May 22, who arrived a day before his birthday.

Sultan Al Neyadi's special birthday - in pictures

Updated: May 25, 2023, 11:19 AM