Al Neyadi has so far conducted more than 200 experiments onboard the International Space Station Image Credit: X/@DXBMediaOffice

Dubai: UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi, who is on the longest Arab space mission onboard the International Space Station (ISS), is scheduled to return to Earth on September 3, successfully completing his six-month mission.

Dubai’s Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) today posted on its social media channels that the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft with the Crew-6 - which includes Al Neyadi - is slated to undock from the ISS on September 2, with the arrival on Earth scheduled for September 3. 

American space agency NASA said the spacecraft is expected to splashdown off the coast of Florida, USA.

Mission milestones
March 2: Al Neyadi becomes second Emirati to blast off to the International Space Station (ISS), onboard NASA’s Space-X Crew-6 mission – marking the beginning of the longest Arab space mission
April 28: The ‘Sultan of Space’ becomes the first Arab to conduct a spacewalk, held outside the ISS
May 4: Al Neyadi becomes first person to practice Jiu Jitsu in space
May 6: Al Neyadi along with his Crew-6 crew members successfully completed the mission to relocate the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft on ISS
September 3: The SpaceX Dragon capsule with Crew-6, including Al Neyadi, expected to splashdown off the coast of Floria, USA
-Al Neyadi has also undertaken cargo work, offloading some of the 6,200 pounds of new science experiments, crew supplies, and station hardware delivered by the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship.
-Collecting air samples from the Destiny and Columbus laboratory modules before cleaning the Veggie space botany facility. The samples were analysed for research purposes.
-Setting up the hardware for the CapiSorb Visible Systems fluid physics study. This experiment investigates the potential of using a liquid-based carbon dioxide removal system to promote more efficient space-based solutions and advanced Earth-bound applications.
-Treating samples In the Kibo laboratory module for the Engineered Heart Tissues-2 experiment using Kibo’s Life Sciences Glovebox. This research may help doctors treat, as well as prevent, space-caused heart conditions and Earth-bound cardiac disorders.

Latest experiment

The astronaut conducted over 200 scientific experiments inside the ISS. In the latest study, Al Neyadi participated in the host-pathogen experiment to analyse the reaction between astronauts’ immunity and the microbial pathogens on the ISS.

Samples from Al Neyadi's blood will be studied to reveal how his immune system has responded to space flight Image Credit: Supplied

This experiment was conducted in collaboration with NASA’s Johnson Space Centre. The results of the study would be analysed through Al Neyadi’s DNA samples collected aboard the ISS and on Earth.

The host-pathogen study examines the interaction between astronauts and microbial pathogens that may be present within the environment of the space station through biological sample collection. This will offer an overall understanding of the effects of stress hormones and latent virus reactivation in the astronaut’s immunity system.

Al Neyadi’s blood samples will hence be collected to further analyse how his immune system has responded to space flight. The viruses being studied will also deliver results on how pathogens that trigger chickenpox in children and shingles in adults are usually dormant unless activated, thus compromising immunity.

‘Breakthrough study’

Adnan Al Rais, Mission Manager, UAE Astronaut Programme, said: “The host-pathogen study is one that will change and impact our knowledge in space biology. It will potentially improve our response to immunity threats and build a stronger foundation of study on how astronauts’ immunity can be better maintained in space. Collaborating with the Johnson Space Centre for this study has helped us unravel a deeper understanding of pathogens and has helped us contribute to the space of healthcare in space. Sultan’s participation as a subject of study for this experiment sets a benchmark for the future of space sciences internationally.”

The astronaut’s samples, which indicate the suppressed immune state of the body, are collected and then frozen on the ISS. They are then sent to the Johnson Space Centre along with the samples that are collected before and after the flight to represent the normal state of the immune system in regular conditions. The samples will be further co-cultured with two types of bacteria separately, the regular bacteria and bacterial components from space, and then studied further.

The host-pathogen experiment is a breakthrough study of the pathogen reaction to human immunity in space. It will help us advance our understanding of how the immune system responds to regular and microgravity-conditioned bacteria. It will impact the understanding of Earth and help offer long-term solutions for various viral infections on Earth as well as in space.

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.