UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi to begin journey home on September 1

Emirati is scheduled to leave International Space Station aboard a SpaceX craft

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UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi is set to begin his journey home to Earth on September 1, after completing a six-month science mission aboard the International Space Station.

Nasa, which announced the return date on Thursday, said a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft that is docked at the station will return Dr Al Neyadi, 42 and three of his colleagues to Earth.

The four astronauts are part of the Crew-6 mission by Nasa and SpaceX, and will handover their pending duties to Crew-7, who are expected to arrive at the station next week.

"The crew has been living and working aboard the station since docking on March 3, 2023," Nasa said.

"During the mission, the crew contributed to hundreds of experiments and technology demonstrations, including student robotic challenges, plant genetics, and human health in microgravity to prepare for exploration beyond low Earth orbit and to benefit life on Earth.

"The crew’s SpaceX Dragon spacecraft, named Endeavour, will undock from the space station no earlier than Friday, September 1, splashing down off the coast of Florida."

Heartwarming moment UAE's Sultan Al Neyadi speaks to sons from space

Heartwarming moment UAE's Sultan Al Neyadi speaks to sons from space

The timings of the undocking and splashdown are yet to be announced, however the journey could take up to 16 hours.

Dr Al Neyadi has become the second Emirati in space and the first Arab to go on an extended mission.

He also became the first Arab astronaut to perform a spacewalk when he carried out a seven-hour maintenance task.

Salem Al Marri, director general of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, told The National that they were proud of their astronaut.

“We expect to give him a hero’s welcome,” Mr Al Marri said.

“When he’s back on Earth, he’ll first go into a kind of medical rehabilitation, such as physiotherapy, blood [tests] and a lot of science work that will need to be completed in those first days.

“Then he’ll come to the UAE and participate in a lot of activities before going back to the US to continue his debrief.”

Dr Al Neyadi's mission is expected to help pave the way for more extended space missions by UAE astronauts, as well as an increased partnership with Nasa and other international space agencies and companies.

The UAE has four citizens in its astronaut corps, including the first Emirati to go into space, Hazza Al Mansouri, as well as its newest members, Nora Al Matrooshi and Mohammed Al Mulla.

Sultan Al Neyadi's life on the International Space Station - in pictures

Updated: August 19, 2023, 6:21 AM