Hazza Al Mansouri returns home to the UAE
After months away from his home country, Hazza Al Mansouri, the first Emirati astronaut has returned home. Greeted by royalty, his actions are promised to inspire a new generation of Emirati astronauts.
Landing at the Presidential Airport in Abu Dhabi, the only airport dedicated to private jets, Al Mansouri and back-up astronaut Dr Sultan Al Neyadi were personally greeted by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces on a rolled out red carpet.
Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed, Ruler’s Representative in Al Dhafra Region, and Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed, Deputy Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Council, also welcomed the astronauts at the airport.
The pair, handpicked out of a pool of 4,000 applicants, spent the majority of the year in Russia undergoing gruelling training and preparation, which in part consisted of isolation from their families. Al Mansouri then spent eight days on the International Space Station, launching on September 25 and returning on October 03. It is expected that back-up astronaut Al Neyadi will embark on the following space mission from the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC).
Upon his return to Abu Dhabi, Al Mansouri presented Sheikh Mohamed with the UAE flag that was hung up on the space station, more than 400 kilometres above Earth. It is said the UAE flag will either stay in possession of the UAE royalty or be placed in a museum in the country. A video from MBRSC also shows the UAE Airforce’s aerobatic display team performing a flyover and painting the sky in the colours of the UAE flag.
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, welcomes home UAE astronauts Hazzaa AlMansoori and Sultan AlNeyadi at the Presidential Airport in Abu Dhabi. pic.twitter.com/ickFnHwlt0— MBR Space Centre (@MBRSpaceCentre) October 12, 2019
“You both are role models for the type of youth we are betting on in our steady march on the path of progress. You're a model to be emulated by Arab young people sincerely working for the advancement of their nations," Sheikh Mohamed said.
"The UAE, since the era of the nation's Founder Sheikh Zayed, has always been considering its people as its true wealth. Our investment in our most cherished assets are the ideal investment for our present and future,"
"Hazzaa Al Mansoori, Sultan Al Neyadi and their brothers working in the UAE Space Programme are laying the strong foundations for towards achieving our ambitions and reaching the Mars.”
It is hoped by the year 2117 that the UAE will have established the first inhabitable human settlement on Mars, effectively terraforming the Red Planet. This ambitious mission is comprised of development in the nation’s space research sectors, artificial intelligence, robotics, and space technologies. Al Mansouri’s mission is marked as the first step towards the UAE’s space agency establishing itself enough to reach Mars. It is hoped by 2020 the country will launch the Hope probe to Mars to gather vital information on the planet.
Al Mansouri, a former fighter pilot said in a conference that his pride was immeasurable
"I saw my country waiting for me. [I saw] pride that I represented the UAE and the Arab world in this mission. This is the start of a flame of hope for the Arab world in this field.”
While in space, Al Mansouri held Q&As and livestreams, shown to Emirati youth, the astronaut played a key role in inspiring future generations to persue a role in space travel as he did. He was also the first Arab on the ISS, the first to speak Arabic, and the first to wear a kandura. All things he was very proud to speak about upon returning to Abu Dhabi.
"I was proud to wear my national dress in space. The astronauts were excited and happy to see someone from a new country at the ISS.
"We were the first to speak Arabic in space, we showed them how we pray and do things differently," he said.
Rogozin, Roscosmos and their people have been instrumental to the success of our country’s first astronaut mission to space.” HE Hamad AlMansoori, Chairman of MBRSC— MBR Space Centre (@MBRSpaceCentre) October 12, 2019
"At the ISS, your religion and nationality don't matter. When I said goodbye to the astronauts, it felt like I was saying goodbye to my brothers and sisters, my family."
Al Mansouri has assured that his mission helped to achieved ‘Zayed’s Ambition’ and pave the way for a golden era of Arab astronauts.