Dubai: UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi’s triumphant return to Earth from space on Monday made the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) team behind the mission jubilant and thrilled. Ever since Al Neyadi and Hazzaa Al Mansoori, the UAE’s first astronaut to go to the International Space Station (ISS), were selected from a pool of 4,000 applicants in 2018, theMBRSC team went all out to provide them the necessary support and helped them get training from international space agencies.
The agency behind the UAE Astronaut Programme funded by the ICT Fund of the Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA) on Monday stated on microblogging site X: “4 September 2023: a day that will remain etched in our memory as a new feat for Emirati and Arab space exploration. The longest Arab space mission in history has been accomplished.”
While many senior MBRSC officials and astronauts were personally present in the US to welcome Al Neyadi back after his historic mission, another team continued to monitor his 17-hour journey back home from the MBRSC Mission Control Centre and kept in touch with those involved in rescue of the Crew-6 astronauts. The MBRSC medical team led by Dr Hanan Al Suwaidi, flight surgeon, UAE Astronaut Programme, was also present to monitor the health of Al Neyadi on his return.
Talal Humaid Belhoul Al Falasi, vice president, MBRSC, who was present at the Mission Control Centre in Dubai, extended his gratitude to the centre’s team after the return of Al Neyadi from the ISS following the completion of the longest Arab space mission in history.
“I would like to thank everyone who participated in the mission, no matter their role. Thank you for all your efforts,” said Al Falasi.
He was accompanied by Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori, chairman, and Yousuf Hamad Al Shaibani, vice chairman, MBRSC. The officials were seen applauding Al Neyadi as they watched him being rolled out of the Dragon Endeavour.
Al Mansoori said the mission is an unprecedented achievement. “We thank God for the safe arrival of Sultan and the successful completion of this historic mission for the UAE National Space Programme. This achievement would not have been possible without the vision of our wise leadership, who constantly strive for ambitious goals, as well as the exceptional support of our hardworking Emirati youth who made this mission a reality,” he added.
All strategic goals met
Meanwhile, Salem Humaid Al Marri, director general of MBRSC, who was stationed in Houston, posted a message on X welcoming back Al Neyadi.
“Our joy is indescribable…,” Al Marri said. He expressed his happiness and pride in the successful completion of the mission by meeting all its strategic goals.
“In these historic six months, we have achieved all the strategic goals of this mission. The longest Arab space mission in history has provided scientific data from over 200 experiments, including research from Emirati universities, and strengthened our ties with the scientific community. The mission also provided an educational and outreach programme that inspired audiences and students from the UAE, alongside millions of people on social media, igniting their passion for space. The mission made history by witnessing the first Arab spacewalk.”
Grateful for support
Al Marri took the opportunity to thank the leadership and partnering agencies for their support in the success of the mission.
“We convey our gratitude to the UAE’s wise leadership for their continuous support. We would also like to thank our partners at NASA, SpaceX and other global agencies, our colleagues at MBRSC who worked day and night, and of course, you Sultan, for making this memorable mission possible,” he added.
Adnan Al Rais, Mission Manager, UAE Astronaut Programme, MBRSC, said: “The successful completion of Sultan Al Neyadi’s mission signifies a strategic milestone for the UAE in space exploration. During his time aboard the ISS, Sultan undertook over 200 groundbreaking experiments and conducted the first Arab spacewalk, while his outreach initiatives and consistent communication about his activities in space kept not just the UAE, but the entire world engaged and informed. Sultan's achievements encapsulate the essence of the UAE Astronaut Programme's vision - to inspire, to innovate, and to integrate the UAE into the global fabric of space exploration.”