Dubai: UAE students have expressed their pride in the country’s first Emirati astronaut and have shared a special message for him ahead of his September 25 mission to the International Space Station (ISS): ‘We are with you in this mission.’
Four days from now, prime crew Hazza Al Mansoori will be launched to the ISS along with his colleagues, Russian commander Oleg Skripochka and Nasa astronaut Jessica Meir, onboard the Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Reserve Emirati astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi will be on standby with his fellow back-up crew Sergey Ryzhikov from Roscosmos and Nasa astronaut Thomas Marshburn.
Al Mansoori will make history for being the first Emirati in space and the first Arab on the ISS.
Excitement is building in schools as the trip draws near, and Al Mansoori and Al Neyadi’s goal to inspire the next generation to dream of reaching space is coming to fruition.
Dr Abdullah Al Karam, Director-General of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), called the Emirati astronauts the UAE’s heroes.
“Now, the students can put into context the lessons they are learning and reading from books,” said Al Karam. “Now they have national heroes they can relate to and inspire to become. It’s going to give kids many interesting stories to talk about for decades to come.
“To Hazza and Sultan, on behalf of all the students, teachers, principals and parents of the schools in Dubai, we congratulate you for all the great job you’ve been doing. In schools, we tell our kids to reach for the stars. And Hazza and Sultan, you are doing that right now,” he added.
“There are many boys and girls in schools right now wishing to be just like you. So from the bottom of our hearts, we thank you. We thank you for inspiring us, for inspiring the nation and for everyone who wants to reach the stars. And we want you to be rest assured that we are all with you in this mission and cannot wait to see the UAE flag up in space.”
Among those who are inspired are Alghala Al Khoor, a Year 5 student at GEMS Wellington Academy in Dubai Silicon Oasis.
“You guys have inspired me to be an astronaut. I really wanna learn a lot about space and I really wanna go to Mars,” said the nine-year-old Emirati. Indian pupil Ayesha Merchant, 10, from Uptown School in Mirdif, agreed, “Hazza Al Mansoori is an inspiration and his expedition to the ISS has inspired me to become an astronaut too and probably even go a step further by flying the UAE flag on the moon.”
Emirati student Mohammad Ahli, 17, also from Uptown School, said he wants to study aerospace engineering because of the astronauts.
“Hazza and Sultan, as a physics student who plans on studying aerospace engineering, you have inspired and motivated me to achieve greatness. You are making the UAE a part of the great human exploration and I wish one day I can follow your footsteps,” he said.
Seventh grader Noora Al Kaabi, 12, from Al Mizhar American Academy, also wants to be an astronaut, but had a special request for Hazza.
“Hello, Hazza! Congratulations for being the first Emirati astronaut! Please take photos of the Earth. I want to be an astronaut just like you,” she conveyed in sign language.
Sporting the iconic royal blue astronaut jumpsuit with a ‘Future Astronaut’ badge on her chest, five-year-old Fatima Al Harmi from Al Mizhar American Academy said with a soft voice: “Hazza, I want to go to space.”
I’m impressed by their sheer strength and the fact that they are willing to risk it all to push the nation forward.
Twelfth grader Amr Bin Haidher Al Mheiri, 17, from GEMS Dubai American Academy, is looking forward to reading the results of the scientific experiments Hazza will be conducting in space. He lauded Hazza and Sultan for their sacrifice.
“I’m incredibly proud to be an Emirati as Hazza and Sultan have broken boundaries that our grandfathers deemed impossible. I’m highly impressed by their sheer strength and the fact that they are willing to risk it all in order to push the nation forward,” said Al Mheiri.
I hope you enjoy your full-course meal and control the balaleet from flying around; it’s also my favourite.
Kuwaiti expat Jana Al Faras, 18, wished the two astronauts well and gave a gentle reminder to Hazza once in space.
“This is a huge achievement and milestone for us as Emiratis, Khaleejis and Arabs. I hope you enjoy your full-course meal and control the balaleet (Emirati dish) from flying around; it’s also my favourite. Best wishes for a promising future,” she said.
For another group of students from Al Mizhar American Academy, Hazza and Sultan embody the UAE’s core belief and guiding principle espoused by its leaders.
“When I grow up, I wanna be an astronaut. Hazza and Sultan, thank you for helping us dream big. Because of your brave mission, students like us can dream of future possibilities,” they said, before adding “La shae’ mustaheel,” which means ‘Nothing is impossible.’