Sultan Al Neyadi speaks to his children from space

Emirati astronaut delighted to hear from his sons as he enjoys the final weeks of a six-month mission aboard the International Space Station

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UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi's last live call with the public from space on Thursday featured several heartwarming moments, including when one of his sons asked him what present he would bring back from the International Space Station.

Dr Al Neyadi's father and two of his six children attended the last of the astronaut's 'A Call from Space' events in Umm Al Quwain, in which he spoke live from the Space Station to heads of state and space enthusiasts.

More than 10,000 people across the country have attended the events, held in each of the seven emirates.

Dr Al Neyadi, 42, will return to Earth in the coming weeks after completing his six-month science mission.

Abdalla, one of his sons, asked him what he liked best about Earth.

A video of the touching moment was shared by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre on its social media channels and has already garnered thousands of views.

"You are the thing I love the most on Earth," Dr Al Neyadi replied.

"But if you mean what is the best thing I like about space ... Abdalla, as you know, we are here in the microgravity environment.

"We can do several things here that you will like. We can do everything, like flying from one place to another."

His son Rashid then asked his father if he would be bringing back any gifts for him.

Dr Al Neyadi had said before going to space that he was taking several of the children's toys to take with him and hand them over when he came back.

"You surprised me with your presence today," Dr Al Neyadi replied.

"Rashid, do you want me to tell you your secrets live?

"I will get you the special things you sent with me."

He said he would also bring back Suhail for him – a stuffed toy that is the mascot of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre.

Dr Al Neyadi's father also attended the event and read a poem to him.

Members of the public asked him questions, including one child named Mansour who asked him if space was safe for young people.

"When I arrived here, I felt like I was a child," Dr Al Neyadi said.

"You experience unique things, such as flying, floating and going from one place to another.

"For sure, kids will be amused by doing all of this.

"Dear Mansour, my advice to all who are your age and students is to focus on their studies and Stem education, which includes science, technology, engineering and maths.

"This all will benefit you when entering the space field because here you may play on your first few days, but you have work such as experiments, maintenance and other tasks that requires focus, education and knowledge of technology among other things."

Salem Al Marri, director general of the space centre, congratulated his team on completing the A Call from Space outreach project.

"The series achieved a strategic objective of Sultan’s mission, which is spreading awareness and was the link between our astronaut and audience from all ages," he said.

"With every event, we see the growing excitement of the participants and students and their determination to follow in the footsteps of Sultan.

"Awareness of science and exploration will remain a key objective of our missions."

Dr Al Neyadi and his four colleagues are expected to return to Earth at the end of this month or the first week of September.

They will undock from the ISS on board a SpaceX Dragon capsule to begin their journey home, with a splashdown to take place off the coast of Florida.

He will first spend some time in Houston for medical procedures, then will return to the UAE for celebrations, before returning to the US for further debriefing.

Updated: August 11, 2023, 12:09 PM