Crew-7 launches to International Space Station to take over from UAE's Sultan Al Neyadi

Emirati astronaut is scheduled to begin journey home on September 1

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Space X launched a crew to the International Space Station (ISS) on Saturday to take over from UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi and his three colleagues.

Crew-7, which includes astronauts from the US, Denmark and Japan, and a cosmonaut from Russia, was launched aboard a SpaceX carrier rocket from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.

Astronauts Jasmin Moghbeli, Andreas Mogensen, Satoshi Furukawa and Kostantin Borisov will ride on the Dragon capsule Endurance to the ISS, a journey that will take nearly 30 hours.

Once they arrive, they will begin six-months of scientific investigations and station maintenance as part of Expeditions 69 and 70.

The flight was delayed a day after teams from Nasa decided to take additional time to ensure that all systems on the spacecraft's environmental control and life support systems were working properly.

“It's great seeing Crew-7 launch with four crew members representing four countries who will live and work on humanity's home in space as we continue the nearly 23 years of a continuous human presence on board the microgravity laboratory,” said Ken Bowersox, associate administrator at Nasa.

A handover ceremony will be held a few days after they arrive in orbit for their six-month mission.

The completion of the ceremony means Dr Al Neyadi, who arrived on the ISS on March 3, will be allowed to return back to Earth, with his departure currently set for September 1.

Amer Al Sayegh, one of the assistant director generals at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre – which oversees the UAE's astronaut programme – said during last week's briefing that they were preparing for Dr Al Neyadi's return home.

“This brings us closer to the launch of Crew-7 and the return of Crew-6, which includes UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi,” he said.

“This is the second UAE human space flight mission and first long-duration mission, and we're very proud of Sultan for taking part in this.”

Updated: August 26, 2023, 12:13 PM