Hazza Al Mansouri talks about dreams, fame, and overcoming anxiety
Hazza Al Mansouri has opened up on his dreams and aspirations, as well as dealing with fame as the first Emirati astronaut and the anxiety of his mission.
It’s been little over a month now since Hazza Al Mansouri made history as the world’s first Emirati astronaut and Arab on the International Space Station. A lot has changed in the fighter pilot turn astronaut’s life since then, including getting his own commemorative coin, stamps, a honourary PhD, and now he says, hordes of fans at every corner asking his questions.
Al Mansouri recently attended an event promoting the space endeavours of the UAE, opening up on his aspirations for the country and life as a national hero, as well as some of the demands of his mission.
Hazza Al Mansouri and back-up astronaut Dr Sultan Al Neyadi
Hosted by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre, the Young Professionals in Space aimed to: “bring scientists, practitioners, engineers and the leaders of space industry agencies together in a single platform, where they can discuss research breakthroughs, technical advances, existing opportunities and emerging space technologies.”
The National reports that Al Mansouri began with speaking about the milestone achievement of the UAE, harking back to when he previously said his mission will usher in a golden age of Arab astronauts. He explained his mission will be a catalyst for the UAE to enter a period of innovation as the US and Russia did during the Space Race.
Al Mansouri on the ISS
“What happened with Neil Armstrong, Apollo 11 and Russia is what we want to see in the UAE,” he said.
“The launch sparked something in the souls of kids, not just here but across the whole Arab region. I believe they are already inspired and will follow their dreams and do something great.”
Al Mansouri went on to open up about what his days look like now he’s a celebrity.
“The first time I went to mosque, after returning, I met a couple of kids who asked me about the space mission,” he said.
“The next day I went back and was shocked by the crowds of children there waiting for me and I spent an hour explaining it all to them.”
Al Mansouri that the time he spends with his fans is only increasing, saying on another recent occasion in a park he spent two hours with fans.
“Some of the kids there recognised me and I spent two hours answering all their questions,” he said.
“My wife joked ‘that’s it, we’re not going out anymore’.”
Al Mansouri swiftly became a hero throughout the UAE, standing as the first man to begin Dubai’s ambitious new space programme. Al Mansouri once returned to the UAE from Russia, was greeted with a royal welcome.
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, personally greeted Al Mansouri at Abu Dhabi’s Presidential Airport when he arrived home. Al Mansouri was also graced with an air show above releasing the colours of the UAE flag.
Beyond the fame and recognition, Al Mansouri also opened up at the event about the anxiety he felt leading up to the mission.
“There were a lot of challenges, if the launch was even two minutes late then it would have meant we would have to be in orbit for two days before docking at the ISS,” he said.
“The slightest delay could have a serious impact on morale and schedules. Some astronauts end up waiting for up to 10-15 years before completing their first mission.”
“Even when I was going up the elevator to the rocket I was saying to myself ‘please God let this rocket work’.”
Al Mansouri was sent up into space from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on the Soyuz MS-15 rocket on September 25. During his landmark stay on the ISS, he performed a number of key experiments, observations, educational talks, and acts of cultural exchange.
As the first Arab on the ISS, he also became the first person to wear a kandora in space. He’s studies included the perception of time in space, the impact of microgravity on the body, and seed growth in a microgravity environment.
It is hoped Al Mansouri's mission will lead to the UAE's continuation of space travel, culminating with the mission to terraform Mars for human civilisation.