First look: Emirati astronauts undergo winter survival training in Russia

Sultan Al Neyadi and Hazza Al Mansouri learn to survive in the wilderness ahead of trip into space

Sultan Al Neyadi (left) and Hazza Al Mansouri during winter survival training in Russia. Courtesy: Dubai Media Office 
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Seen for the first time, pictures have been released of the two Emirati astronauts, Hazza Al Mansouri and Sultan Al Neyadi, undergoing winter survival training.

The three-day training was organised by the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Zvezdini at a forest in the Russian capital Moscow. It prepared the astronauts to survive in harsh winter conditions ahead of a trip to the International Space Station later this year in case of a crash landing in a hostile environment.

Commenting on the training, Hazza Al Mansoori said: “Our greatest achievement in this training was that it enhanced our confidence in our ability to adapt to harsh weather conditions." Courtesy: Dubai Media Office

They learnt how to build two types of shelters and first-aid skills, as well as how to cope with stress, utilise available resources and communicate with search and rescue teams through visual signals such as flares or wireless communication.

Mr Al Neyadi and Mr Al Mansouri were chosen from 4,022 applicants to undergo astronaut training. One of them will be chosen to be the first Emirati to go into space on board a Russian Soyuz rocket that will blast off on September 25.

The astronaut's intensive training featured both practical and theoretical aspects. Courtesy: Dubai Media Office

The name of the successful astronaut will be announced in May.

Either Mr Al Mansouri or Mr Al Neyadi will join Russian commander Oleg Skripochka and American flight engineer Chris Cassidy on the trip.

Under an agreement signed with the Russian space agency Roscosmos, the first UAE astronaut was scheduled to go into orbit in April, but the plans were disrupted by an aborted launch last October.

The two astronauts underwent medical and psychological tests before and after the training, to ensure their readiness. Courtesy: Dubai Media Office