Sheikh Hamdan meets UAE astronauts outside Museum of the Future
The UAE’s space program just ticked off quite a big box on its to-do list: sorting out who the country’s first astronauts are going to be.
The Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre Sheikh Hamdan met up with the first ever Emirati astronauts: Hazza Al Mansouri and Sultan Al Neyadi.
Mansouri – a military pilot – and Neyadi – a doctor of information technology - were selected from a shortlist of 4,022 applicants received by the Space Centre’s Astronaut Program, which was launched back in 2017. The two astronauts will now begin training for the first UAE space exploration missions in 2021.
Sheikh Hamdan discussed the importance of the mission with both astronauts, as they will become the first UAE citizens to visit the International Space Station. They will join a small number of Muslim astronauts – the first being Saudi Arabia’s Sultan bin Salman Al Saud (who was a payload scientist aboard the ISS back in 1985) as well as Muhammed Faris (became the first Syrian in space in 1987).
Mansouri and Neyadi will now face some touch challenges ahead of them as they begin training at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Russia. They will be going into space aboard a Soyuz MS-12, but before they can begin practicing their space walks they will need to learn Russian.
While English is commonly spoken up in space, both Mansoury and Neyadi will need to learn how to communicate with ground control, as well as fellow crew member Oleg Skripochka, the commander of the mission.
After that, they will be put through a barrage of tests (including the human centrifuge, which looks as unpleasant as it sounds) as well as Zero-G simulations. They will also have to get accustomed to the bulky flight suits they’ll need to wear on the flight to the ISS – which can take as little as six-hours, or as long as two days.
Sheikh Hamdan met the two astronauts in front of the Museum of the Future. A fitting meeting place for the men who will go on to make history for not just the UAE, but the region.