If everything goes to schedule, in a little less than three weeks’ time, the UAE’s first astronaut will be strapped into a Soyuz rocket.
Hazza Al Mansouri will then feel the rumble of the massive engines roar to life and lift gently into to the skies — free from the gravitational pull of earth.
Along with reserve astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi, the two are mission-ready and heading to the International Space Station (ISS) for the tour of duty of a lifetime.
Al Mansouri will be accompanied on the mission by Nasa astronaut Jessica Meir and Russian commander Oleg Skripochka, beginning a new chapter for this young nation and charting a new adventure, as they orbit high above the planet on the ISS.
A Soyuz-MS 15 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan will transport Al Mansouri into space on September 25, and he will return to earth on October 3.
When the founding fathers sat together and envisaged creating a unified nation, who would have dared dream that less than five decades later, the red, green, white and black flag of this homeland would be circling in the heavens?
This is a nation that has always adopted a can-do attitude, always wondered what if, not what might, embraced the future with passion and verve.
And on September 25, if the launch goes ahead as scheduled, it will mark a significant achievement for all who call and make the UAE home.
This nation was founded on the belief that anything is possible, that our young deserve the best educational resources, the best training, and the best academic facilities to fulfil their promise
This nation was founded on the belief that anything is possible, that our young deserve the best educational resources, the best training, and the best academic facilities to fulfil their promise.
This is a nation too that has invested in sciences and technology, learning and advanced learning. And it is a nation whose up-and-coming generations have embraced opportunity while always acknowledging the wisdom, investment and foresight that have made such advances possible.
High above the world
When Al Mansouri is, in the words of David Bowie, “floating in a tin can” high above the world, he will look down on a planet that is minuscule compared to the scale of the voids of space.
From space, there are no boundaries, no borders, no lies of division, no creeds or colours that define and debilitate us here on the planet we all share. Being able to live and orbit above this planet took collaboration and agreement, teamwork and tolerance. And the UAE has always stood for that too — a true partner on our earthly journey.