Sultan Saif AlNeyadi new official pic
Sultan Saif AlNeyadi is a holder of a PhD in Information Technology (Data Leakage Prevention) and practices jujitsu martial arts Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: In a historic announcement, the UAE on Monday revealed that Emirati astronaut Sultan Saif AlNeyadi has become the first Arab selected to serve on the International Space Station (ISS) on a six-month mission.

AlNeyadi was handpicked from a group of Emirati astronauts at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) in Dubai. He will join NASA’s SpaceX Crew-6 Mission to ISS in the spring of 2023.

Who is Sultan Saif AlNeyadi?

A brief by MBRSC highlights the background, accomplishments and training of AlNeyadi for the upcoming mission.

AlNeyadi is an Emirati astronaut, who was the back-up for Hazzaa AlMansoori, in the UAE’s first scientific mission to ISS in 2019, under the slogan ‘Zayed’s Ambition’.

How did he train for the mission?

In preparation for the ISS mission, AlNeyadi trained at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre at Star City in Moscow, based on an agreement with the Russian space agency Roscosmos. He also received training in Houston in Texas, US, and Cologne in Germany, as part of partnership agreements with major space agencies, including NASA, ESA, and JAXA.

The training programme for the ISS mission included training on all sections and units of the ISS and how to use its devices and equipment, emergency fire drills, dealing with low pressure and ammonia leak inside the station, in addition to survival training if the capsule had to land in a cold forest.

AlNeyadi was also trained on the spacesuit, weighing up to 10kgs, and how to wear it in micro gravity. He was also trained to perform daily tasks such as preparing food, how to use the camera to document events, taking pictures of the Earth, communicating with the ground stations, and other day-to-day tasks during the mission.

About the mission
• The first long-duration duration Arab astronaut mission
• Launch: Spring of 2023 as part on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-6
• Duration of the mission: Six months
• Throughout the mission, advanced scientific experiments will be carried out, providing valuable results to the scientific community.Throughout the mission, advanced scientific experiments will be carried out, providing valuable results to the scientific community
• Upon the completion of this mission, the UAE will rank 11th globally among countries that have successfully achieved a long-duration mission at the International Space Station

AlNeyadi underwent more than 90 courses, with the total number of training hours exceeding 1,400 hours. AlNeyadi further successfully completed his first year of training at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in 2021 and is currently ready to work as an operator onboard the ISS.

He trained in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL), passed evaluations which included using the Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU), maintenance of the International Space Station, the Incapacitated Crew Rescue (ICR), and completed theoretical and practical training sessions on the T-38 jet.

Sultan Al Neyadi SUPPLIED (3)-1658763394705
AlNeyadi topside at the NBL pool Image Credit: Supplied

He was granted the NASA astronaut’s pin after completing around 20 months of general training at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

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What is the UAE Astronaut Programme?

AlNeyadi was one of the two selected astronauts in the first batch of the UAE Astronaut Programme, launched in 2017 by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and President His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who then was Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed forces.

The programme aims to train and prepare a team of Emirati astronauts and send them to space on various scientific missions. AlNeyadi was selected from over 4,000 more candidates, following a series of mental and physical tests in the UAE and abroad.

He is a holder of a PHD in Information Technology (Data Leakage Prevention) and practices Jujitsu, which helped him to be ahead of other candidates and successfully pass the UAE Astronaut Programme’s tests, as he shared the high mental abilities and fitness required.

Space X Falcon 9 (1)-1658763386000
International Space Station Image Credit: Supplied

Professional and personal life

AlNeyadi was born on May 23, 1981, in Umm Ghafa, 30km southeast of Al Ain, in Abu Dhabi, where he received primary and secondary education. He excelled in his education, following his father’s footsteps, who served in the military.

AlNeyadi joined the armed forces and was assigned to study Communications Engineering. He began his higher education in the UK, and received a Bachelor’s degree of Science in Electronics and Communications Engineering from the University of Brighton in the UK.

He returned to the UAE and began serving for the Armed Forces. He later resumed his passion for education by heading to Australia to receive his Masters degree in IT, from Griffith University in Australia, in 2008.

AlNeyadi worked as Network Security Engineer for the UAE Armed Forces, and visited more than 20 countries around the world. At the beginning of 2012, he returned to Australia for five years, where he earned a PHD in Information Technology (Data Leakage Prevention) and published six research papers on international websites.