Details of first long-duration Arab astronaut mission announced

Mission will make the UAE the 11th country to send astronauts on a long-duration mission to the ISS

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The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre on Thursday revealed details of the second crewed mission of the UAE Astronaut Programme to the International Space Station at an event held at the Museum of the Future in Dubai.

Scheduled for launch on February 26, the mission will be the first long-duration Arab astronaut mission. Sultan Al Neyadi will be the prime astronaut of the mission while Hazza Al Mansoori will act as backup crew.

The event included the unveiling of the mission logo and details of the new mission, such as training, ISS operations, research experiments and the coming stages of the mission.

“Guided by the vision of our wise leadership, the UAE’s space sector has grown significantly over the past decade, with major achievements, including the Emirates Mars Mission, the Emirates Lunar Mission and the coming first long-duration Arab astronaut mission,” Maj Al Mansoori said.

“As we look to the future, we are committed to building on this momentum and expanding the capabilities of our space programme and our astronauts.

“As part of the UAE Astronaut Programme, we have created a sustainable ecosystem that is set to further enhance our understanding of space. Moreover, from uncrewed planetary missions, we are building on the possibility of crewed missions to space and beyond.”

The mission will make the UAE the 11th country to send astronauts on a long-duration mission to the ISS as well as train and prepare for spacewalks.

“The country is establishing the foundations of this vital sector by providing it with qualified national talent, launching further scientific projects related to space exploration, and supporting the leadership’s economic vision,” said Salem Al Marri, Director-General of MBRSC.

“Long-duration space missions play a crucial role in advancing our understanding of space and our ability to explore and utilise it in the future.”

He added: “Five years down the line, we have not only flown the first Emirati astronaut, Hazza Al Mansoori, to space, but are also set to send Sultan Al Neyadi, from the first batch of the UAE Astronaut Programme, into space for a period of six months.

“This will not only be the first long-duration space mission undertaken by our astronauts, but also the first by a non-ISS partner country, which is an achievement in itself.

“Al Neyadi’s mission is the next step in our vision for crewed missions for the UAE, which will be followed by Nora and Mohammed for future missions.”

Mr Al Marri unveiled the UAE Mission 2 patch logo while paying tribute to the UAE Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

The Crew-6 mission will launch aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft from Nasa’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida. Dr Al Neyadi will be mission specialist of the prime crew, with Nasa astronauts Stephen Bowen and Warren Hoburg as well as Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev.

Crew-6 is part of Expedition 69, with Roscosmos cosmonauts Nikolai Chub and Oleg Kononenko, and Nasa astronaut Loral O’Hara joining the team at later dates.

Expedition 69 will potentially continue to install the final pieces of iROSA, the roll-out solar arrays on the space station, and conduct scientific experiments and research.

The backup for Crew-6 comprises Maj Al Mansoori, Nasa’s Jasmin Moghbeli, ESA’s Andreas Mogensen and Roscosmos’s Konstantin Borisov.

Once on board the ISS, Dr Al Neyadi will have a heavy schedule of experiments and dedicated time for live interactions with various entities, universities and schools.

During his 4,000 hours on board the ISS, he will conduct more than 19 advanced research experiments and studies.

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The mission will also do education outreach to inspire the next generation of scientists and explorers.

Dr Al Neyadi said: “With the second mission to the ISS, we are raising the limits of our ambitions and raising the UAE flag ever higher.

“This mission presents a unique chance for the UAE to contribute to the international space community and advance our understanding of the universe.

“I am grateful for the support and training provided by Nasa and our international partners, and I am excited to create new milestones together during this mission.”

Maj Al Mansoori also spoke about what it means to be the first to travel to the ISS.

“Being an astronaut from the UAE and the Arab world means being part of something bigger than yourself,” he said.

“It means dedicating your life to exploring the unknown and pushing the boundaries in the fields of space and science.

“It is a privilege and an honour to have had the opportunity to represent my nation and humanity in the vastness of space. Sultan’s mission to the International Space Station is a continuation of this incredible journey of discovery and exploration.”

The UAE Astronaut Programme is one of the projects funded by the ICT Fund of the Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority, which aims to support research and development in the ICT sector in the UAE and promote the country’s integration on the global stage.

Also in attendance at the event were Mohammad Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs; Khalfan Belhoul, chief executive of Dubai Future Foundation; Dr Amer Sharif, chief executive of Dubai Academic Health Corporation and president of Mohammed bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences; as well as other officials, partners and the media.

Updated: February 02, 2023, 8:10 PM