DUBAI: Two months since making history as the first UAE astronaut to travel to space, Hazzaa Al Mansouri has now focused his attention on the UAE’s Hope Mission, set to reach the Red Planet on the country’s 50th anniversary, making it the ninth country to touch down on the planet.

Al Mansouri is also working on the UAE’s main space mission, the 100-year programme named 2117 with an objective of sending people to Mars by this date.

“One of the really most challenging things is food security, energy, how we can survive there with the high radiation affecting our bodies. So, all of these challenges that we encounter we have to study them now from here and build up a culture of science,” he told Euronews in an intervierw, adding that living on Mars will be simulated.

Commenting on introducing UAE food to the International Space Station and the reaction he received, Al Mansouri said, “I offered them UAE food on board the station. It was amazing for them and interesting because our food has its unique flavour. They liked it, actually.”

He said they took a lot of pictures and told him they wanted to order more in future. “So I hope it will be permanent.”

After a year-long training regime in Russia and the September 25 voyage to the International Space Station which made him an icon, the UAE’s first astronaut is spearheading the country’s future space missions and educatiing UAE youth about space culture.