The first Emirati in space, Maj Hazza Al Mansouri, shared some of his unforgettable moments from his time in orbit, including struggling to tie his shoelaces in microgravity.
Maj Al Mansouri was speaking during an online seminar held on Wednesday by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC.
The former fighter jet pilot was joined by Nasa astronaut Jessica Meir. They went to space for the first time in 2019 and did their mission training together for a year in Russia.
Maj Al Mansouri spent eight days on the International Space Station, while Ms Meir stayed for 205 days.
"I remember one of the things that I really struggled with was to tie my shoelaces in space," Maj Al Mansouri said.
“It was really difficult because you have to stabilise yourself. I tried to hold the handles on the space station, but any force you apply to yourself felt like it was pushing you.
“Eventually, one of the Russians on board said I should tie my shoelaces as I float and it’ll be easier.”
Ms Meir, a former marine biologist and physiologist, said simple daily tasks became a challenge in space.
She said she had to come up with a new strategy to get dressed in microgravity.
“It’s interesting because we have so much training in all of the technical things of space, so you’re very well prepared for that,” Ms Meir said.
"But what you're not prepared for are these easy tasks that fade into the background on Earth, but are very difficult in microgravity.
“So, when you get to the space station, you’re like a newborn. You have to figure out how to go to the bathroom, how to eat, drink and put your clothes on. These are all more challenging when you’re floating.”
The seminar, titled "Friendships Formed in Space", also touched on the growing partnership in space between the US and the UAE.
Maj Al Mansouri and reserve astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi are currently training at the Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Texas, under an agreement between the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre and Nasa.
Two more Emiratis, Mohammed Al Mulla and the first Arab female astronaut, Nora Al Matrooshi, will join them later this year.
"Our relationship in space [between the UAE and US] is escalating," Maj Al Mansouri said.
“Looking into the future, we’re definitely looking to hold more training and be part of something bigger in terms of space exploration.”
Nasa assisted the UAE during the selection process of its two latest astronauts. Ms Meir and American astronaut Anne McClain travelled to the Emirates to test the shortlisted candidates.
Once the Emirati astronauts graduate from the Nasa training programme, they will qualify for US-led space missions.
Maj Al Mansouri said the UAE's move to sign the Nasa-led Artemis Accords, which outline guidelines for peaceful exploration of the Moon, would open new opportunities for Emiratis.
"That [signing the Artemis Accords] is really important. It will open new opportunities in future for scientists and researchers back home to participate in the Artemis programme in general," he said.
Several other countries signed the accords, including Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the UK, Ukraine and South Korea.
But Russia's space chief Dmitry Rogozin said the agreement was "too US-centric" and instead partnered with China to develop a lunar research station.
Meanwhile, Nasa is working on sending the next man and first woman to the Moon as part of the Artemis programme. Nasa also plans to build a lunar-orbiting space station called the Lunar Gateway.