Sultan Al Neyadi with Dr Hana Al Suwaid
Dr Hanan AlSuwaidi, flight surgeon for the longest Arab space mission in history, monitors the health of astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi while he is in space after accompanying him during the preparations. Image Credit: MBRSC

Dubai: The UAE’s second astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi, who reached the International Space Station (ISS) on Friday, will conduct dental and postural experiments in space for the universities in the country.

This was revealed by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), the agency behind the UAE Astronaut Programme.

MBRSC said it is currently supporting two research projects from the Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences (MBRU), that will also be part of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-6 mission involving Al Neyadi.

The educational research projects are assigned by Mohammed bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences (MBRU).

What are the projects?

The first project focuses on assessing how spaceflight environment of microgravity affects cardio-postural interactions. The data from this study could lay the foundation for the development of improved inflight countermeasures and post-flight recovery programmes. It could also help with new protocols for pre- and post-flight health monitoring.

The second project investigates dental or oral cells in a microgravity-simulated environment on the ground. The data from this study will lay the foundation for designing space-based research for testing the same.

Both projects will engage students and researchers to assure capability development and qualification of new generations of scientists, said MBRSC.

Al Neyadi is expected to conduct experiments required for these projects in the actual microgravity environment of the ISS.

Apart from MBRU, data sharing from the Crew-6 mission by Al Neyadi will include prominent local universities such as New York University (NYU) Abu Dhabi and others.

According to NASA, over 200 science experiments and technology demonstrations will be carried out during the six-month mission to the ISS. These include Al Neyadi conducting at least 20 experiments, apart from the tasks consigned by Nasa and doing maintenance work on the orbiting station.

The fields of experiments that he will cover include: cardiovascular system, epigenetics, plant biology, radiation, back pain, immune system, materials science, sleep analysis, fluid science and technical demonstration.

Crew-6 members are currently part of the Crew-5’s Expedition 68. After the ‘direct handover’ procedures that are expected to last over five days, they will be conducting the experiments for the Expedition 69.

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Funding of the projects

According to MBRSC, the two research projects from MBRU are conducted as part of the UAE Astronaut Programme’s Research Grant Programme.

MBRSC provides funding for the most scientifically significant research topics proposed by the UAE scientific community, according to criteria such as feasibility, scientific novelty and community value.

The UAE Astronaut Programme was initiated in April 2017 by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates, and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to prepare an Emirati astronaut corps for scientific space exploration missions, creating a culture of scientific endeavour and motivating the youth to pursue space science and technology.

The UAE Astronaut Programme is funded by the ICT Fund of the Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA).