As it happened: UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi completes historic mission

SpaceX Dragon capsule splashes down off the coast of Florida, completing 17-hour return journey from ISS

Live Updates
Sep 04, 2023, 03:35 PM

The UAE's cosmic ambitions burn brighter

UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi, left, and his fellow crew members have returned to Earth after a six-month stay at the International Space Station. Nasa
The National Editorial:

With his safe return to Earth, Emirati astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi has joined a very select group of people – that tiny proportion of humanity who have made the perilous journey into orbit to experience the void of space, witness the sun rise over the rim of our planet and feel the weightlessness of zero gravity.

Dr Al Neyadi’s stint in orbit was a milestone for the UAE, too, and a symbol of the country’s ambitions in the realm of science and exploration. 

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Sep 04, 2023, 01:03 PM

Join us live on Instagram

Thank you for joining us for UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi's return to Earth.

Live coverage here will be closing soon, but our coverage continues on Instagram for live reaction from Sarah Forster, our News Editor, and Space Editor Sarwat Nasir. We go live at 1.30pm UAE time

There will also be more to come from The National over the next few weeks, as Dr Al Neyadi takes part in health tests and returns to the UAE for celebrations to mark his achievement.

You can also follow Sarwat Nasir on X and bookmark our dedicated UAE in Space page for more coverage.

Sep 04, 2023, 11:49 AM

MBRSC chairman praises UAE leadership

Hamad Al Mansoori, chairman of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre: 

Sep 04, 2023, 11:45 AM

'We achieved all of the mission goals'

Salem Al Marri, director general of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, has congratulated Dr Sultan Al Neyadi on his safe return to Earth.

Sep 04, 2023, 10:20 AM

UAE leaders congratulate Sultan Al Neyadi on return home from space

President Sheikh Mohamed has congratulated UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi on his return to Earth.

“My son, Sultan Al Neyadi, thank God for your safe return to Earth after the longest Arab mission in space,” Sheikh Mohamed wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“Together with the national work teams, you made a historic Emirati achievement and contributed to the service of science and humanity. With all of you, our ambitions in the field of space are great and continuous.

“Science is our weapon, and the effort of our children is our asset. May God grant success."

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, said that Dr Al Neyadi's achievements have inspired millions of Arab youth.

“We congratulate the people of the Emirates and all Arab youth on the safe return of Sultan Al Neyadi to planet Earth – the first Arab astronaut on a long mission to the International Space Station,” Sheikh Mohammed wrote.

“Sultan conducted 200 scientific research missions … and spent more than 4,400 hours in space … and inspired millions of Arab youth that we are able to contribute positively to humanity's scientific and cultural journey.”

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Sep 04, 2023, 09:38 AM

A message from UAE President Sheikh Mohamed

Sep 04, 2023, 09:24 AM

Sultan Al Neyadi to fly to Houston to be reunited with family 

Sultan Al Neyadi and his three crewmates will now board a helicopter to Tampa, Florida, so they can take a flight to Houston, Texas. 

In Houston, they will be reunited with their family and friends. 

Then, they will take part in medical tests, which could take up to two weeks. 

Dr Al Neyadi will then return to the UAE to take part in celebrations being held in his honour. 

He will then return to the US for a full mission debriefing. 

Sep 04, 2023, 09:18 AM

Sultan Al Neyadi exits Dragon capsule 

Sultan Al Neyadi waves to the camera after exiting the capsule. Photo: Nasa

Sultan Al Neyadi has exited the Dragon capsule, after a 17-hour journey home from the International Space Station. 

Dr Al Neyadi and Nasa astronauts Stephen Bowen and Woody Hoburg and Russian cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev were placed on a gurney-type transport as their bodies become accustomed to gravity again.

They will now take part in a quick health test, before boarding a helicopter that will take them to Tampa, Florida, so they can take a plane to Houston, Texas. 

Sep 04, 2023, 09:02 AM

Sultan Al Neyadi and crewmates to exit capsule soon 

Technicians open the side hatch of the Dragon capsule. Photo: Nasa 

The side hatch of the Dragon capsule has been opened by SpaceX engineers. 

They will ensure the hatch is secure before the astronauts can exit the craft.

Sep 04, 2023, 08:53 AM

Dragon capsule placed on SpaceX recovery vessel 

The Dragon capsule is brought onboard the SpaceX recovery vessel. Photo: Nasa
The Dragon capsule carrying Sultan Al Neyadi has been placed on a SpaceX recovery vessel after arriving back on Earth at 8.17am, UAE time.

Engineers will now ensure it is safe to unbolt the hatch and allow the four astronauts to exit. 

Sep 04, 2023, 08:52 AM

Watch: The moment Sultan Al Neyadi landed safely back on Earth

Sep 04, 2023, 08:31 AM

Elon Musk welcomes Sultan Al Neyadi and fellow astronauts back to Earth

SpaceX founder Elon Musk has welcomed Crew-6 back to Earth, with a post on his social media platform.

"Astronauts returning from orbit," he posted on X, formerly Twitter, shortly after the Dragon capsule splashed down off the coast of Florida at 8.17am, UAE time.

Crew-6 includes UAE's Sultan Al Neyadi, two Nasa astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut. 

Sep 04, 2023, 08:28 AM

SpaceX crew arrive to recover Dragon capsule from water

A SpaceX recovery boat approaches the Dragon capsule.
A SpaceX vessel has arrived to recover the Dragon capsule, which has just splashed down in the Atlantic, off the coast of Florida. 

The boat crew will first inspect the craft to ensure it is not leaking any toxic gases. 

It will then be transported to a recovery ship, where the capsule hatch will be unbolted and the astronauts will exit the craft.

Sep 04, 2023, 08:19 AM

UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi back on Earth, completing historic space mission

The SpaceX Dragon capsule splashes down off the Florida coast.
Sep 04, 2023, 08:19 AM

Sultan Al Neyadi splashes down in the Atlantic 

The SpaceX Dragon capsule carrying Sultan Al Neyadi has splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Florida, at 8.17am, UAE time. 

Dr Al Neyadi and his three colleagues in the Dragon have completed a six-month mission aboard the International Space Station.

A SpaceX crew will now recover the capsule from the water.

Sep 04, 2023, 08:14 AM

Capsule carrying Sultan Al Neyadi re-enters Earth's atmosphere 

The SpaceX Dragon capsule carrying Sultan Al Neyadi has re-entered Earth's atmosphere. 

The re-entry helped slow down the craft, but then the capsule deployed parachutes that will allow it to decelerate further. 

A larger set of parachutes will deploy in a few minutes to help the craft brake further, and then splash down in the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Florida.

Sep 04, 2023, 08:05 AM

Nasa loses contact with Dragon while capsule re-enters Earth's atmosphere 

Mission control has temporarily lost contact with the SpaceX Dragon capsule carrying Sultan Al Neyadi, as it re-enters Earth's atmosphere.

Extreme temperatures during the re-entry causes the systems on the craft to stop working for about seven minutes. 

The signal will be regained once re-entry is complete. 

The capsule will then deploy parachutes to help it slow down as it descends towards Florida for a splashdown off the coast of Jacksonville.

Sep 04, 2023, 07:54 AM

Dragon capsule begins re-entry to Earth 

The SpaceX Dragon capsule carrying Sultan Al Neyadi has begun its descent towards Florida. 

It completed a crucial de-orbit burn that allows to re-enter Earth's atmosphere. 

The capsule is due to splash down in the Atlantic, off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida, at 8.17am, UAE time.

Mission control will lose communication with the capsule for about seven minutes, as it re-enters the atmosphere. 

Once the re-entry is complete, the craft will deploy parachutes that will allow it to slow down before splashdown.

Sep 04, 2023, 06:17 AM

Crew-6 prepare for re-entry to Earth 

Sultan Al Neyadi and his three colleagues have worn their spacesuits again to prepare for a re-entry into Earth. 

They departed the International Space Station on Sunday to begin a 17-hour journey home. 

The SpaceX Dragon capsule they are travelling in will perform a de-orbit burn to help the craft get closer to Earth for a re-entry. 

A splashdown off the coast of Florida is expected at 8.17am, UAE time.

Sep 03, 2023, 03:29 PM

What will Sultan Al Neyadi do during 17-hour journey home?

The SpaceX Dragon capsule that Sultan Al Neyadi is travelling on was designed to offer comfort to astronauts. 

He and his three colleagues can take off their spacesuits once the craft is in a stable flight path. 

It has a toilet on board. Snacks are also available for the crew. 

They will be in continuous communication with mission control in Houston to ensure a safe re-entry into Earth and a splashdown on Monday, at 8.17am, UAE time. 

Nasa and SpaceX will resume their live stream an hour before splashdown.