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Emirati astronaut Hazzaa AlMansoori starts the live session. Image Credit: NASA screengrab

Dubai: People in the UAE asked the first Emirati astronaut Hazzaa AlMansoori questions through televised link-up. The session for school children, individuals and groups who pre-registered attended the live link up at the Mohammad Bin Rashid Space Centre in Al Khawaneej where they got a chance to ask AlMansoori about what life is like on the ISS. Al Mansoori became the first Emirati in space and the first Arab aboard the ISS this week when he took off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 5.57pm on Wednesday along with Russian commander Oleg Skripochka and American astronaut Jessica Meir.

The live session

Mohammed bin Rashid praises Hazaa

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, praised Hazza and said: “I do promise you that your brothers and sisters will follow you and pass the same tests that you did.”

Hazzaa thanks Mohammed bin Rashid

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Image Credit: NASA

"I want to convey to you and UAE people my greeting and tell you that I am ok. Thank you Your Highness, I am very happy and proud to be the first Emirati astronaut from the Arab world to speak to you in Arabic from the ISS. It is an incredible feeling. Today, Zayed’s ambition has reached the space. Thank you for making this possible for your people. You have always put us in the first position and prompted us to excel in all fields."

When asked about the moment of the launch: "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 the space and ISS. It is indeed an incredible feeling. Yet the most amazing moment was seeing the earth, the sun and the cloud from afar. Seeing the UAE was also the most beautiful thing I’ve seen in my life. I hope all Emiratis will come and see this from the space."

When asked about scientific experiments: "On Thursday, we started our tasks and experiments and today will also do some in collaboration with the European Space Agency. We have many scientific experiments to do. Everything is going on as scheduled."

"You have taught us there is nothing impossible and we hope that generations to come will follow your footsteps and that of the late founding fathers.

"Thank you for your call. It means a lot for me. Today our dream has come true, thanks to our country’s ambitions. I hope that Emiratis will excel in all fields and domains."

Question from audience: What is your feeling when you are working in an environment free of gravity?

Hazaa replies: As you see now I am floating, it is a fantastic feeling. It is really exciting. Just with one push you can come back to your place. I learned how to control my body.

Question from audience: Did you watch the country from space and what is the feeling?

Hazaa replies: It is really fantastic and it was the best and beautiful view of the UAE. And also the astronauts were looking to see the palm trees in the UAE.

This was the first phase (arrival) and now we embark on the second, which involves scientific experiments. The journey here took almost 6 hours. We are going to have lots of experiments to do. Zayed's ambitions have reached space and this heralds the start of new missions and phases to be done, in-shallah.

Question from audience: What is your advice to those aspiring to be astronauts?

Hazaa replies: Have target and study well with the support from school and family. Try to be outstanding in your studies. Pilots and engineers and those studying STEM should do their best also to take care of your fitness.

In Pictures

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People arrive to attend the live session. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News