What happens after Sultan Al Neyadi returns to Earth?

The Emirati astronaut is set to splash down off the coast of Florida on Sunday

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Latest: UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi's journey back to Earth

A busy schedule awaits UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi once he returns to Earth on Sunday, after completing a historic six-month science mission aboard the International Space Station.

Medical tests, a reunion with family and friends, and celebrations in the UAE are going to take up most of Dr Al Neyadi's time.

He and three of his colleagues are set to depart the orbiting outpost aboard a SpaceX Dragon capsule on Saturday for a 15-hour journey home, with a splashdown off the coast of Florida expected on Sunday at 8.58am UAE time.

After Dragon splashes down

Once the capsule has safely splashed down, crew on a nearby boat will inspect the craft to ensure it is not releasing any toxic gases.

It will then be carried by the boat to SpaceX's recovery ship, where engineers will unbolt the hatch to allow the astronauts to exit.

Saudi astronauts return from space station

Saudi astronauts return from space station

Because they have spent six months in space, they will likely have to be carried out, as their bodies need to readjust to gravity.

Nasa will likely show the moment when the astronauts emerge from the capsule on its live stream.

After astronauts leave Dragon

The astronauts will be placed on a stretcher-type transport after they are taken out of the Dragon.

They will then go through medical screenings that measure their sense of balance, with healthcare teams on the lookout for dizziness, nausea and headaches.

Once they are cleared, the astronauts will board a flight to Houston, Texas, where they will be reunited with family and friends.

More medical screenings

Dr Al Neyadi and his colleagues will not be able to go home right away, as they will have to take part in more medical tests over the following week.

Nasa has not specified what these tests entail, but most of them are likely to be similar to the ones astronauts underwent in the space shuttle era.

These include tests that measure hypertension, cognitive behaviour, hearing, vision, the cardiovascular system and behavioural health, among others.

Return to the UAE

Dr Al Neyadi, a father of six who was born and raised in Al Ain, will return to the UAE after the health screenings to reunite with family and friends, and take part in celebrations held in his honour.

When Hazza Al Mansouri, the first Emirati in space, returned from his mission in 2019, he was received by President Sheikh Mohamed.

A hero's welcome also awaits the record-setting Dr Al Neyadi, who became the first Arab astronaut to carry out an extended space mission, as well as the first Arab to perform a spacewalk.

He will have to return to the US after his visit to the Emirates to take part in more mission debriefings.

This is when he will work with Nasa and the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre to discuss the experiments he took part in and report on the activities he participated in during his stay on the orbiting outpost.

When he is back in the UAE for a longer stay, he will be going on a nationwide roadshow to share his experiences.

Updated: September 01, 2023, 9:02 AM