Dubai: In preparation for the launch of the first Emirati astronaut to the International Space Station (ISS), both UAE astronauts, Hazza Al Mansouri and Sultan Al Neyadi, tried out their customised ‘Sokul’ spacesuits and Soyuz chairs at Zvezdza in Moscow on Friday.
Images of the two astronauts sent in by the Mohammad Bin Rashid Space Centre were tweeted by the Dubai Media office. After a thorough and gruelling examination of the two astronauts, Al Mansouri was chosen as the first astronaut from the UAE to take off to the ISS on September 25 while Al Neyadi will continue to be the backup astronaut. Al Mansouri will be launched into space aboard a Soyuz MS 15 spacecraft for an eight-day stay on the ISS before returning to Earth aboard a Soyuz-MS 12.
A team of specialised engineers from the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos designed two custom Soyuz MS-15 seats for Emirati astronauts. The final checks are being carried out to make sure the space suits and the special seats are indeed the right fit for the two astronauts. The two astronauts returned to Moscow after completing their training at the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) of the European Space Agency (ESA) in Cologne, Germany and have less than 75 days for the take off of their mission into the International Space Station.