UAE astronauts Sultan Saif Al Niadi (left) and Haza Ali Al Mansouri Image Credit: Twitter

Abu Dhabi, Dubai: His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, on Monday announced the names of the two Emirati astronauts who will be sent to the Interational Space Station (ISS).

Hazza Al Mansouri and Sultan Al Niadi were named as the first Arab astronauts to go to the habitable satellite hovering above Earth.

They were successful in reaching the final stage of the nominations from 4,022 applicants.

The two were selected after passing six stages of medical, psychological and advanced tests and a series of personal interviews in cooperation with NASA and advanced medical tests at the Russian Space Agency, Roscosmos.

In a Tweet, Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid said: "It's a new Arab achievement announcing the names of the first Arab astronauts of the International Space Station. Hazza Al Mansouri and Sultan Al Niadi. Hazaa and Sultan, who represent all Arab youth, raise the ceiling of ambitions for the coming generations of Emiratis. Congratulations to our people and our youth."

Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid emphasized the capability of the Arab youth if conditions were right, stating: "Today, we have the only programme to launch a Mars rover in the region, we have the capabilities to manufacture satellites, and we have Emarati astronauts, and we have Dh20-billion investments in the space sector. And most importantly... we have people who have no roof for their ambitions. The summary: Arabs are capable if conditions are available.”


His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, congratulated Al Mansouri and Al Niadi.

In tweet, Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed stated: "Just as there are no limits to space, there is no limit to our ambitions to achieve further achievements for our country. We have great confidence in our youth in carrying the banner of innovation, achievement and excellence."


Habitable satellite

The ISS is a space station, or a habitable artificial satellite, in low Earth orbit. Its first component wsa launched into orbit in 1998, and the last pressurised module was fitted in 2011.

The station is expected to operate until 2028.

The ISS is the largest human-made body in low-Earth orbit and can often be seen with the naked eye from Earth. Its development and assembly continues, with components scheduled for launch this year and in 2019.

The ISS consists of pressurised modules, external trusses, solar arrays, and other components which were launched by Russian Proton and Soyuz rockets, and American Space Shuttles.

The ISS serves as a microgravity and space environment research laboratory in which crew members conduct experiments in biology, human biology, physics, astronomy, meteorology, and other fields.

The station is suited for the testing of spacecraft systems and equipment required for missions to the Moon and Mars.


The ISS maintains an orbit with an altitude of between 330 and 435 km (205 and 270 miles) by means of reboost manoeuvres using the engines of the Zvezda module or visiting spacecraft. It completes 15.54 orbits per day.

'I am very proud of my son': Sultan Al Niadi's father
In an interview with Gulf News, Saif
Muftah Al Niadi, father of Sultan Al Niadi, said: “I am very proud of my son for being selected as one of the first astronauts for the UAE. The whole family was very happy and excited when they found out about the news; all of us are fully supporting him and hope for the best for him in the future. Having our first UAE astronauts is one of the biggest accomplishments for our country, and it will raise the name of the UAE among the other nations.”

“My son didn’t initially tell me about joining the astronauts programme, he told me after he was selected with nine others to go to Russia for three weeks’ training. He thought that I wouldn’t have approved because it’s dangerous, but I told him that I fully supported him and his ambitions, and I gave him all of my encouragement to go on and succeed. After the three weeks of training he came back and said that he was one of the two chosen as the first UAE astronauts, and I was very happy with the news,” he added.

Al Niadi also thanked the UAE government for supporting the young generation. “The UAE is always encouraging our youth to be the best and to join new fields of scientific innovation, my hope is that my son will succeed in his mission and take our country to new heights. The field of space is a new domain for our country, and it will be the new generation of our young sons and daughters that will ensure its success and development,” he said. - Abdulla Rasheed, Abu Dhabi Editor