Seeing the UAE from space is the most beautiful thing Hazzaa Al Mansoori has experienced in the initial stages of his eight-day stay onboard the International Space Station (ISS), he said during his first live video link-up with the UAE public yesterday.
His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, was the first to interact with Hazzaa from the Mohammad Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) in Dubai. Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid described Hazzaa’s launch to the ISS as “only a first bold step into space for UAE”.
Asked about his launch and arrival, Hazzaa told by Shaikh Mohammad: “I was so happy. I remember everything ... the moment we took off, the rocket acceleration, the gradual absence of gravity, which meant we arrived in space. It is indeed an incredible feeling. Seeing the UAE was the most beautiful thing I’ve seen in my life. I hope all Emiratis will be able to come and see it from space.”
Shaikh Mohammad replied: “You’re a source of pride for all Emiratis. You’re the first [Emirati to launch into space] and the first is always remembered. However, I can proudly assure you that a generation of young Emiratis will follow in your footsteps and become space scientists and technology pioneers.”
Asked about scientific experiments, Hazzaa said: “Yesterday, we started our tasks and experiments and today will also do some in collaboration with the European Space Agency. Everything is going on as scheduled.”
Shaikh Mohammad said: “Shaikh Zayed always dreamt of launching from desert into space. He was always bent on inviting scientists and space experts to visit the UAE for discussions and knowledge sharing about latest space finds and breakthroughs. What sets the UAE apart is our determination to turn dreams into achievements.”
Hazzaa expressed pride at being the first Arab speaking to the world in Arabic onboard the ISS, voicing hope the experiments he and his crew are conducting would prove useful to humanity at large.
Shaikh Mohammad replied: “Our next station is Mars through the Hope Probe. I and my brother Mohammad Bin Zayed believe in our ability to achieve this. Some around us think it’s impossible. But the impossible is just a word thrown around by the weak.”
As he got ready to answer questions from the audience at the MBRSC, Hazzaa played with the microphone to show them how it floats in space. The audience cheered as he caught hold of the mike again.
The first question was about what and how astronauts eat in space. Hazzaa replied: “Food is no different from what we eat on earth. There’s just a different way of preparing and heating it. Also we have to fix it somewhere until we finish it so that it doesn’t fly away.”
Taking questions on how he feels working in an environment with zero gravity and what his experiments would be, Hazzaa said: “The ISS is a very big lab. We do tests on our bodies in the absence of gravity. I feel as if my head is becoming big because of floating.
“The crew is very happy with me. Although we come from different cultures, religions and nationalities we are united like a family. I first learnt to fly, it was an incredible and overwhelming feeling and I hope that one day you can come and experience it yourselves.”
He added: “Seeing the earth from space is something amazing. Seeing clouds, mountains ... yet, the most beautiful thing is the UAE, I saw the Palm. It’s an indescribable feeling.”
Five-year-old Maryam Khalid Bin Jarsh was the youngest and last to ask a question to Hazzaa. She asked for his advice to those aspiring to be astronauts. Hazzaa replied: “You should try to be outstanding in your studies.”
He said those studying Science Technology Engineering and Maths courses should do their best in studies and also take care of their fitness.