First-ever Emirati astronaut to bring UAE heritage and culture to space

The UAE is set to make history on 25th September, when the nation’s first-ever astronaut Hazza Al Mansoori takes off to space for his mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

Photo credit: WAM, emirati astronaut
Photo credit: WAM

Al Mansoori will enter space onboard the Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft from the Baikonur, Kazakhstan, on 25th September 17:56 (UAE time) as part of his eight-day space tour, according to a report by WAM.

Following more than 1,400 hours of training and 90 courses within a year, Al Mansoori will carry out 16 scientific experiments in cooperation with international space agencies, making the UAE the 19th country to get a foothold on the ISS and contribute to scientific research.

In addition, the Emirati astronaut will be the first in history to conduct an introductory tour in Arabic at the ISS.

During a press conference held by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) in Dubai, the organisation’s director-general Yousuf Hamad Al Shaibani also confirmed that Al Mansoori has completed all pe-spacefight medical experiments required for the mission.

Salem Al Marri, assistant director general, Science and Technology Sector and Head of UAE Astronaut Programme, told WAM that the mission to space aims to inspire the nation’s next generation. “The ultimate value of the mission is to contribute to the enrichment of scientific progress in the UAE and make further achievements in the space, science, and research industry, to serve the ambitious aspirations to be one of the leading countries in the space industry and its science and technology.”

MBRSC is also sending a total of 10kg shipment related to the UAE’s heritage, culture and history with Mansoori.

The UAE astronaut will take the nation’s flag made of 100 percent silk, a photo of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan with a delegation of Apollo astronauts, taken 1976, a copy of the Holy Quran, a book entitled ‘My Story’ Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, in which the first chapter talks about the story of the day he announced the launch of the UAE Astronaut Programme, and MBRSC’s book ‘The Race to Space.’

MBRSC has signed an agreement with the Emirates Amateur Radio Society to build a radio station inside the centre to communicate with the first Emirati astronaut while aboard the ISS. It was tested by conducting a call with a Russian astronaut who is currently aboard the ISS.

According to MBRSC, Al Mansoori’s scientific mission is divided across three areas. The first is scientific experiments identified in cooperation with global partners, including NASA, the European Space Agency, ESA, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, JAXA and Roscosmos.

The second is the Science in Space initiative – simple scientific experiments selected based on the UAE’s school curriculum. The third pillar is educational initiatives, in coordination with the ESA and JAXA.

The main crew of the mission are Al Mansoori, Oleg Skripochka, and Jessica Meir. While the back-up crew is composed of UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi, Sergei Nikolaevich and Thomas Henry.

Al Mansoori will conduct 16 scientific experiments in cooperation with international space agencies, including the Russian Roscosmos and the European Space Agency, ESA. Six of these experiments will be done aboard the ISS to study Brain-DTI (Diffusion Tensor Imaging), osteology, motor control, time perception in microgravity, Fluidics (fluid dynamics in space) and DNA methylation (DNAm) age.

The scientific mission includes experiments involving schools in the UAE as part of MBRSC’s Science in Space initiative. The first phase of the initiative witnessed the participation of nearly 16 schools from the UAE, in the presence of Al Mansoori.

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