With the UAE soon to become only the 19th nation to send an astronaut to the International Space Station, ARN News spoke to the two Emirati's training for the historic mission.
September 25, 2019. A date that will go down in UAE history.
That’s because on that day the first UAE astronaut will blast-off aboard the Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft towards the International Space Station (ISS).
While there, the Emirati astronaut will carry out a number of local and international scientific experiments, as well as being the subject of research themselves as scientists analyse the impact the journey has on their body.
Hazza AlMansoori and Sultan AlNeyadi are the two astronauts who are vying for that historic trip.
They were the final two picked from over 4,000 applicants to the UAE’s astronaut programme that was launched in December 2017.
Speaking to ARN News, AlMansoori explained that his dreams of going to space were inspired by the UAE’s founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan.
AlNeyadi also says that he always believed that anything was possible and credited the UAE Armed Forces, of which his family has been a proud part, for giving him the skills, determination and discipline to be able to become an astronaut.
However, he admitted that when the call came confirming that he’d been chosen as one of the two UAE astronauts he struggled to believe it so much that he went for a run.
Since being chosen, the Abu Dhabi natives have been training over in Russia and recently completed a gruelling winter training exercise.
Hazzaa AlMansoori and Sultan AlNeydai during the winter survival training organized by the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre at a forest in Moscow. This training aims to prepare the astronauts to survive the harsh winter conditions in case of emergency landing. pic.twitter.com/oQWsaoH87c— MBR Space Centre (@MBRSpaceCentre) February 25, 2019
AlMansoori describes what’s been the most enjoyable part of their preparations so far, as well as the most difficult.
The astronauts will find out in May which one of them will be chosen for this first mission. Although only one of them can go and both naturally say that they want to be the chosen one, the pair also insist that they’re working together for the same purpose and not in competition, as AlNayedi explains.
The mission to the ISS was initially scheduled for this coming April but was postponed due to the crash of the Soyuz MS-10 in October 2018.
AlNeyadi says having a later date will help them in their preparations.
Both men say they’re incredibly proud to be representing the UAE in this momentous project.
Salem Al Marri, Assistant Director General of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, told ARN News that whoever misses out on this trip will be the next Emirati astronaut to go into space, so whatever happens in May both Hazza AlMansoori and Sultan AlNeyadi are already assured of their special place in UAE history.