UAE astronauts try on their space suits

Emirati pair seen donning their customised Sokol space suits

The UAE’s first astronauts are getting suited and booted for the upcoming space mission, during a fitting in Russia.

Hazza Al Mansouri and Sultan Al Neyadi, the prime and back-up astronauts respectively, have returned to Moscow after completing training at the European Astronaut Centre in Germany last month.

In images released by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre on Friday, the Emirati pair were seen donning their customised Sokol space suits and trying out their Soyuz seat liners during a fit check at the Zvezda facility in the Russian capital.

Sokol suits are worn by all astronauts who fly on the Soyuz aircraft. They are worn during launch and upon return to Earth to protect astronauts from potentially harmful conditions in space.  In an emergency, the suit pressure is usually maintained.

During typical testing, astronauts must wear their flight suit, while it is inflated; sitting in a launch couch for two hours to ensure it fits correctly and is comfortable enough. They were fitted for their seats in May by being lowered into chairs and having quick-setting plaster poured around them.

The moulds were used to produce an ergonomic seat that will be fitted into the rocket — which blasts off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Mr Al Mansouri will be putting his on in just over 11 weeks when he travels to the International Space Station for an eight-day mission. It will be the first time an Emirati astronaut travels to space.