Dubai: The 100-day countdown to the launch of the first Emirati into space has begun.
The Mohammad Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) on Monday posted a video of Hazza Al Mansouri, the first astronaut from the UAE, as he prepares for his mission to the International Space Station (ISS) 100 days from the September 25 launch date.
Al Mansouri will be launched to space aboard a Soyuz MS 15 spacecraft for an eight-day stay on the ISS before returning to Earth aboard a Soyuz-MS 12.
Yousuf Hamad Al Shaibani, director-general of MBRSC, said: “Day after day, we get closer to achieving the vision of our wise leadership to make the UAE a leader in the space industry, with the first Emirati astronaut travelling into space to conduct scientific experiments that benefit humanity. Less than 100 days are left to travel to ISS.”
Al Mansouri and fellow Emirati astronaut and backup, Sultan Al Neyadi, are undergoing a series of quality training at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Star City, Russia on the various aspects of the mission to ISS, along with the prime and backup flight crews.
The mission’s main crew includes Roscosmos commander Oleg Skripochka, and American astronaut, Jessica Meir, both of whom are training with Al Mansouri.
Al Neyadi, on the other hand, is undergoing similar training with the backup team, which is also composed of three astronauts including Sergei Nikolaevich, the Russian flight commander of Roscosmos, and Thomas Henry, the American astronaut of Nasa.
The crew will train on the Soyuz MS so they would know take-off and landing procedures and how to respond with emergency situations.
Salem Al Merri, assistant director-general for science and technology sector and head of UAE Astronaut Programme, lauded the astronauts for the progress they have made through months of training.
“We are proud of the level that the astronauts have reached due to their huge effort and the support provided to them. They gained a lot of experience through the intensive training that they underwent so far, which qualifies them to carry out the task perfectly. Nevertheless, there is additional training with our partners in Russia, Europe and the US, to prepare them well before 25 September,” he said.
Al Mansouri and Al Neyadi are to travel to the European Astronaut Centre, which is overseen by the European Space Agency in Cologne, Germany, and then to the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Texas, for further training.
Prior to the mission launch, the astronauts will undergo a range of medical tests to measure their physical and mental fitness levels, as per global standards.