Sultan Al Neyadi enters final month of historic space mission

Emirati astronaut began six months on International Space Station on March 3

Sultan Al Neyadi is approaching five months on board the International Space Station. Photo: Sultan Al Neyadi / Twitter
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Emirati astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi is preparing to return to Earth as he enters the final month of his milestone mission aboard the International Space Station.

The UAE history-maker arrived on the ISS on March 3 to carry out the Arab world's longest space mission and is due to head home towards the end of next month, with the exact date to be confirmed.

The intrepid trailblazer has written his name in the record books in a memorable journey.

In April, he took a giant leap forward for the country's space sector when he carried out a spacewalk, marking another first for an astronaut from the region.

He left the comfort of the ISS in a bulky suit to conduct intricate work while floating in microgravity more than 400km above the Earth.

Dr Al Neyadi, 42, is participating in more than 200 experiments assigned to him and his colleagues by Nasa and 19 others by UAE universities.

Some of his research has involved life sciences, including wearing a biomonitor vest and headband, to allow scientists on the ground to observe his cardiovascular system while he worked in microgravity.

The research aims to help scientists study the effects of microgravity on the human heart and potentially help create therapy for heart disease.

Opening up on life in space

He has conducted several live calls with pupils to help inspire a new generation of space enthusiasts, sought to enlighten and entertain with various social media posts offering insights into his mission and even celebrated his birthday on the ISS.

During one talk with pupils, he shared his experience of the spacewalk.

“The EVA [extravehicular activity, or spacewalk] was a really, really interesting feeling for me.

“It's the first time that was happening in the Arab world. So, I felt like it was a great responsibility.

“We spent seven hours outside of the station to do a lot of maintenance and preparation for installing new solar arrays for power capabilities.”

In May, Dr Al Neyadi was part of the welcoming party as Saudi astronauts Rayyanah Barnawi and Ali Al Qarni entered the ISS.

Ms Barnawi became the first Arab woman on board the ISS, as well as the first Saudi woman in space.

They spent eight days on board carrying out experiments on life sciences and weather technology.

The astronaut has kept Earth in focus while far away from home, capturing a number of striking images of the UAE from space, as well as snapshots of other parts of the world.

He is part of the Crew-6 team, alongside Americans Stephen Bowen and Woody Hoburg, and Russian Andrey Fedyaev.

Born in Al Ain, Dr Al Neyadi served in the Armed Forces as a network security engineer.

The father of five has a doctorate in information technology from Griffith University in Australia and a bachelor of science degree in electronics and communication engineering from the University of Brighton in England.

He is the second Emirati to journey into space, following in the footsteps of Hazza Al Mansouri, who spent eight days on the ISS in 2019.

Updated: July 27, 2023, 11:21 AM