UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi, who turns 42 on May 23, will make a call to his hometown Al Ain from space on his special day. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi, who is on the longest Arab space mission on the International Space Station, will make a special call with his hometown on May 23, his 42nd birthday.

United Arab Emirates University (UAEU) is set to host the next edition of ‘A Call from Space,’ an exclusive event featuring the Emirati astronaut on May 23, 2023 in Al Ain, the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) announced on Thursday.

This is the fourth instalment in the live call series facilitated by MBRSC and it will be an extra special one for the UAE’s second astronaut as he will be celebrating his birthday on board the space station on that day.

As part of the roadshow, the public will have the opportunity to interact live with Al Neyadi, who was born on May 23, 1981, in Umm Ghafa, 30 km southeast of Al Ain, in the emirate of Abu Dhabi.

How to attend

The upcoming edition of ‘A Call from Space’ will take place at The Great Hall in the UAEU at 2pm, with doors opening from 1pm onwards. Due to limited seating, interested individuals are requested to book their place at the earliest by visiting the events section on the MBRSC website, the Dubai-based agency behind the UAE Astronaut Programme said.

Salem Humaid AlMarri, director general, MBRSC, said: “Each call we share with Sultan is an invaluable window into the realities of life beyond our planet. It is also an opportunity to learn, to inspire, and to fuel our collective curiosity. We are not only hearing about an astronaut’s journey, but also shaping the future narrative of space exploration for our country and the world. With each call and interaction, we are stepping closer to turning our space aspirations into a tangible reality and inspiring a new generation to carry the torch of exploration into the future.”

Significant milestones

Al Neyadi has been making history in space for over two months, marking a significant milestone in Arab space exploration. His responsibilities on the ISS are vast and varied – having conducted several scientific experiments, performed maintenance work, and even aided in the relocation of the Dragon spacecraft that launched his SpaceX Crew-6 on March 2.

In a recent landmark event during Expedition 69, Al Neyadi, alongside fellow crew member Stephen Bowen, became the first Arab astronaut to perform a spacewalk or an Extravehicular Activity (EVA) outside the ISS.

The spacewalk, which spanned 7 hours and 1 minute, involved skillfully executing a number of preparatory tasks, that included routing of power cables and laying the groundwork for the forthcoming installation of the ISS Roll-Out Solar Array (iROSA).

The UAE Astronaut Programme is one of the projects managed by MBRSC under the UAE’s National Space Programme and funded by the ICT Fund of the Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA), which aims to support research and development in the ICT sector in the UAE and promote the country’s integration on the global stage.