UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi and six fellow astronauts orbiting the Earth are welcoming four new arrivals to the International Space Station.
Endurance, the Dragon spacecraft, docked at the space-facing port of the station’s Harmony module on Sunday at 5:16pm UAE time.
The international crew of four astronauts will open the hatch after about two hours and enter the ISS to greet the seven crew stationed at the space outpost.
The new crew's arrival on Sunday marks another step in the return home of UAE astronaut Dr Al Neyadi, scheduled for September 1.
The SpaceX Crew-7 mission is the seventh rotation mission for Nasa and includes astronauts from the US, Denmark, Japan and Russia.
Nasa astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli, European Space Agency astronaut Andreas Mogensen, Japan’s Satoshi Furukawa and Russian cosmonaut Konstantin Borisov will join in the scientific investigations and maintenance carried out on the ISS.
The agency said they had a special treat for space enthusiasts after Crew-7 arrived at the ISS.
“We are going to do a fly around of the International Space Station and get some cool photos, and get that out to everybody to show what an awesome outpost we have,” Joel Montalbano, Nasa's space station programme manager, said on Saturday.
The UAE's Dr Al Neyadi has been working aboard the station since March 3, 2023, and has broken several records during his mission.
He recently became the first Arab ever to conduct a spacewalk and has also broken the record for the longest Arab mission in space.
Dr Al Neyadi, along with Nasa astronauts Stephen Bowen and Woody Hoburg and Russian cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev, will return on the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft that will undock from the space station on September 1 and splash down off the coast of Florida.
The crew have conducted hundreds of microgravity research experiments, technology demonstrations, plant genetics and research on human health to benefit life on Earth.
Dr Al Neyadi has spoken of the incredible example the space mission set for young people who follow his journey.
“We need to share the advancement of technology that we do on board the International Space Station, and we need to push the boundaries with exploration as well,” he said during a recent ‘Call from Space’ where he took questions and shared his experiences.
In previous calls, Dr Al Neyadi said he wanted to spend time with his family when he returned.
“Honestly, arriving in your homeland after succeeding in your mission is a great thing to have,” he said.
“I cannot comprehend it yet. Hopefully, I will get to spend time with family.
“I hope to get in touch with students, share my experience with everybody and just spread enthusiasm about space because this is only the stepping stone for further targets in space.”
Dr Al Neyadi has been involved in more than 200 experiments in the past five months.
Nasa astronaut Hoburg has described working on the station as “an absolute blast.”
“It’s been a real honour getting to do this work with Sultan,” he said during a video call this month.
For the next five days, the number of crew aboard the space station will reach 11 before Dr Al Neyadi and other astronauts return to Earth next Friday.
The research done in space lays the groundwork for future exploration and scientific breakthroughs.
The Nasa website will provide live coverage of the docking with the ISS and the hatch opening.