Enter the dragon: Sultan Al Neyadi shares striking space station mission patch

Emirati astronaut will launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in February for six-month mission

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Emirati astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi has shared a striking image of the mission patch he will wear on his momentous journey to the International Space Station next year.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is set to carry the Dragon Crew spacecraft into the skies in mid-February, with Dr Al Neyadi and his American and Russian colleagues on board.

The Nasa/SpaceX Crew-6 mission will launch from the Kennedy Space Centre in the US state of Florida.

Dr Al Neyadi and his crew mates will spend six months on board the ISS.

“Our Crew-6 mission patch is here, happy and excited to share it with you,” he wrote on Twitter.

Mission patches are designed and worn by astronauts as well as other people affiliated with a mission.

The patch design, shared by Dr Al Neyadi on Twitter, features a sailing ship with a dragon's head, a flag reading “VI” — the roman numerals for “six” — with a rocket soaring through the stars above.

Ready for lift-off

This will be the UAE's second ISS mission, after Hazza Al Mansouri spent eight days on the orbiting science laboratory in 2019.

For that mission, the Emirates teamed up with Russian space agency Roscosmos and Maj Al Mansouri launched on a Soyuz rocket.

This time, the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre ― the organisation that oversees the UAE Astronaut Programme ― was able to secure a mission through US-based Axiom Space, a company that arranges private trips to space.

Nasa owed Axiom Space a seat on a Falcon 9 rocket, after the company gave up its spot on a Soyuz rocket in 2021 for American astronaut Mark Vande Hei.

An agreement was signed between Axiom and MBRSC in April.

Since then, Dr Al Neyadi has been training for the mission in the US, spending time at the Johnson Space Centre in Houston, SpaceX's headquarters in California and at the launch site in Florida.

The crew includes Nasa astronauts Stephen Bowen and Woody Hoburg as well as Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrei Fedyaev.

Nasa's mission patch explained

A message shared alongside the patch said that the images represent all who have ventured into the unknown in a bid to unravel the deep mysteries of space.

“Sailing across the Crew-6 patch, the ship represents both our destination, the International Space Station, and the vessels that countless explorers have steered into the unknown,” said the Nasa statement.

“The ISS anchors us, on the dawn of missions to the Moon and Mars.

“The ship's sail, a symbol of the 2012 Cosmonaut class, has relative radii matching those of Earth, the Moon and Mars.

“The Draco constellation represents the Commercial Crew Programme, and shares a name with the thrusters that manoeuvre our Dragon spacecraft.

“The ship's Dragon figurehead looks to the future, as we also look back at Earth, grateful for the tireless hours of all who support our mission.”

Updated: December 14, 2022, 6:10 PM