190506 MBRSC
Emirati astronauts get custom Soyuz (MS-15) seats ahead of the first Emirati Arab astronaut's trip to the International Space Station on 25 September 2019. Image Credit: Mohammad Bin Rashid Space Centre

Dubai: A team of specialised engineers from the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos designed two custom Soyuz MS-15 seats for Emirati astronauts Hazzaa Al Mansoori and Sultan Al Neyadi.

The newly designed seats come following the official announcement of the launch date of the first Arab and Emirati astronaut to travel to the International Space Station (ISS) on September 25 and the announcement made by Mohammad Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) of selecting Al Mansoori as the prime astronaut and Al Neyadi as the back-up astronaut.

Roscosmos took detailed measurements of the astronauts’ bodies to design the seats, in line with the agreement signed between the UAE and Russia to send the first Emirati astronaut to participate in scientific research in a space mission to the ISS, as part of the UAE Astronaut Programme.

A team of engineers put them into a Soyuz mockup mini bathtub to ensure that the seats correctly fitted the two astronauts. The astronauts checked their customised seats while quick setting plaster was poured around them.

In a video posted on MBRSC’s social media platforms, Al Mansoori and Al Neyadi are seated in a Soyuz mockup mini bathtub, wearing two Sokol spacesuits. After manufacturing the Soyuz seats, the two astronauts will ensure that the sizes of the chairs are accurate, by sitting on them and experimenting several positions, as a necessary procedure to ensure the safety and comfort of the astronauts aboard their trip to the ISS.

Yousuf Hamad Al Shaibani, Director General of MBRSC, said: “Beginning to design two custom Soyuz MS-15 seats for Al Mansoori and Al Neyadi is a new and important step in sending the first Arab and Emirati astronaut to the ISS.”

Al Shaibani stressed that these advanced stages confirm the pivotal role played by the UAE and its organisations in the global space sector.

Salem Al Marri, Assistant Director General for Science and Technology Sector, Head of UAE Astronaut Programme, said: “Reaching this important stage highlights our determination to move forward. The process of manufacturing the Soyuz seats, and conforming to standard specifications and safety factors is a very important step in the trip to the ISS.”

“Manufacturing the custom Soyuz MS-15 seats is highly dependent on several safety and security factors, including ensuring that the sizes of the chairs are accurate, as well as sitting on them and experimenting several positions, as a necessary procedure to ensure the safety and comfort of the astronauts aboard their trip to the ISS. This is currently being worked on.”

Al Mansoori and Al Neyadi are currently undergoing training at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Star City, Russia in preparation for this mission. Al Mansoori will fly for an eight-day space mission to ISS aboard a Soyuz-MS 15 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and return to Earth aboard a Soyuz-MS 12.

The UAE Astronaut Programme is funded by the ICT fund of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA). Launched in 2007, this fund, which is the first of its kind in the Arab world, aims towards supporting research and development within the ICT sector in the UAE, helping it to grow into a nationally significant industry with a leading place in the world.