Welcome back Sultan!
UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi and other members of Crew-6 are back on Earth. The crew members safely egressed from the side hatch of the Dragon Endeavour with the help of the SpaceX recovery personnel. Al Neyadi was the last to exit the spacecraft exactly one hour after the splashdown. He is back on Earth after spending 186 days in space. After medical checks, crew members will fly to Houston where they will be welcomed by family members. Al Neyadi’s father, brothers, wife and MBRSC officials are among those waiting to give him a grand reception. Here is how we tracked Al Neyadi’s journey back to Earth that began on Sunday.
UAE leaders congratulate Al Neyadi
As the nation celebrates the safe return of Sultan Al Neyadi, President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan praised Neyadi for transporting the dreams and aspirations of the nation to uncharted territories, emphasizing that the people of the UAE hold a deep sense of pride for his groundbreaking achievements.
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, stressed that Sultan Al Neyadi has emerged as a beacon of inspiration for millions of Arab youths, showcasing the potential to greatly influence the progressive trajectory of humanity in the fields of science and civilisation.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid said: “I extend my congratulations to the UAE President on yet another milestone in our ambitious space programme’s evolution. As we welcome Sultan Al Neyadi back to earth, I commend him and the entire MBRSC team on the successful completion of this historic mission. In just six years since the launch of the UAE’s Space Pioneers programme, we have celebrated two groundbreaking Emirati space missions. These achievements reflect the UAE's commitment to shaping a brighter future for the world. We have great faith in the potential of our youth and we are confident that our nation’s deep wealth of talent will continue to drive its progress to greater heights. We are resolute in our commitment to build on our achievements to excel as a leader on the global stage."
Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai, said that today marks a monumental milestone in the UAE’s history.
Sheikh Hamdan said: “The conclusion of this mission marks yet another bright spot in our space journey. The mission's success reflects the commitment of the MBRSC team to bolster the UAE's status as a leader in space exploration. We are dedicated to making meaningful contributions to the progress and wellbeing of humanity, as part of which we continue to forge strong partnerships with global space agencies, research institutions and universities. Sultan AlNeyadi devoted 600 hours to conduct 200 experiments on the ISS, which represent key contributions that further consolidate our nation’s legacy in the global space arena.”
Crew-6 members are now undergoing medical checks. After that they will take a NASA plane for the short flight back to Houston. Al Neyadi will fly into the UAE after completing at least a three-week-long rehabilitation phase.
After 186 days in space, Al Neyadi exited the Dragon exactly one hour after the splashdown.
Look: Sultan Al Neyadi exits Dragon
Sultan Al Neyadi egresses from the Dragon Endeavour capsule. Al Neyadi is the last crew member of Crew-6 to exit the capsule
NASA astronaut Steve Bowen exits the spacecraft with a big smile. Applause happening on deck. Pilot Woody Hoburg is next to egress.
Safety is number one priority
There are medical personnel and medical facilities on board provide standard checks and see the health of the crew and make sure they're feeling good. There is a helipad on the recovery vessel itself. So, after the initial medical checks, the crew will be able to get a very quick ride home to the Florida coast and then on a plane to Houston where the families are eagerly awaiting them.
The change of gravity from microgravity to one G can be taxing on the body of the crew members. Throughout that whole process, through medical checks, the helicopter ride and the plane ride, the crew will have facilities and the ability to rest.
Medical facilities on board
There are medical personnel and medical facilities on board to provide standard checks and check the health of the crew and make sure they're feeling good. There is a helipad on the recovery vessel itself. So, after the initial medical checks, the crew will be able to get a very quick helicopter ride to the Florida coast, and then on a NASA plane to Houston where their families are eagerly awaiting them.
Look: Crew-6 members exit Dragon
Crew-6 members including Sultan Al Neyadi begin egressing from the Dragon Endeavour capsule. The crew members are exiting through the side hatch of the spacecraft.
Dragon hatch opened
Hatch set to open
The Dragon Endeavour has moved to the recovery platform and the side hatch is now opening.
See: First look from inside Dragon
First view from inside the Dragon after it was nested onto the recovery vessel. The crew members are now waiting to egress.
Capsule lift begins
Dragon Endeavour is now placed into the nest of SpaceX recovery vessel Megan.
The Dragon capsule will soon be lifted on to the recovery platform of the Recovery Vessel Megan using hydraulic lift. At this point in time, the rough estimation for crew egress is anywhere between 15 to 30 minutes depending on how additional safety checks pan out and how quickly the capsule can be lifted onto the recovery vessel.
Egress through side hatch
The crew onboard the Recovery Vessel Megan will have access to the side hatch of the Dragon to go ahead and open it. The crew members will remain seated throughout that process. When the Dragon’s side hatch will open, the recovery teams will take the the Crew-6 astronauts and cosmonaut out one at a time.
Megan approaches Dragon
SpaceX recovery vessel Megan approaches Dragon for recovery
Huge recovery team
Recovery operations team includes helicopters, fast boats, jet skis and ships that are standing by to pull the dragon out of the water. The Primary Recovery Vessel, Megan, is not a fast boat. So it does take about 30 minutes for it to reach the capsule.
Mission Control gave a call out indicating that the initial checks were successful. So, the close approach team now has the green light to begin climbing on board the Dragon capsule. Recovery team members are now on the capsule.
Watch: Highlights of the Dragon landing
Highlights of the deployment of main parachutes of Dragon spacecraft.
Recovery vessel approaches Dragon
SpaceX recovery vessel approaches the Dragon for recovery.
Word of thanks
Commander Steve Bowen aired some words of thanks after splashing down safely right on time at 8.17 am.
We really appreciate all the support from all the initial trainings, the launch and throughout the mission, keeping us abreast of all the status of the vehicle-support all the way down. This has been incredible. I really appreciate it. I look forward to working with you all again.
Crew-6 members including Sultan Al Neyadi splash down off the coast of Florida. Parachutes are cut down and released
800 metres away from landing site
Now standing by for splashdown. At the point of splashdown the capsule will be going about 15 or 16 miles per hour.
Two parachutes released from the spacecraft
Dragon’s two drogue parachutes have been deployed, slowing down the spacecraft’s descent.
Blackout period ends and communication signals are back. NASA announced that there was some variation in the predicted acquisition of sign. At this point in time the crew are reentering through the Earth's atmosphere over the coast of Florida heading towards Jacksonville Atlantic coast. Up next will be the deployment of the drogue parachutes, which should happen in about a minute
Few minutes to splashdown
Blackout time begins
Signals lost as blackout time begins. There is no communication with the spacecraft possible now. The loss of signal will last for 7 minutes due to the plasma formation during re-entry
Crew closes visors
Crew-6 Commander Steve Bowen confirmed that the crew members have put away and secured the tablets that were located and strapped on to their legs outside of the spacesuit. He said the crew members have also closed their visors. That provides a leak-tight environment for the crew during this dynamic phase of re-entry.
Latest preparations for the landing unveiled
Salem Humaid Al Marri, Director General, MBRSC, has revealed the most recent preparations for the landing of astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi to Earth.
What is blackout time?
The blackout time, lasting about seven minutes, occurs when the dragon can't send or receive commands due to the heat shield's work during reentry, causing plasma to form. It slows the vehicle from 17,000 to 350 mph, and the thermal protection systems (TPS) shield dragon from the 3500-degree heat. This blackout offers a fantastic view of the Dragon for those in Central Florida.
Blackout time confirmed
Blackout phase starts at 07:04am. A loss of signal is expected at this time. It will last till 7:11am and splashdown time remains 7:17am GST. No update to vehicle status, and weather still looks good, NASA said.
Splashdown in ~30 minutes
Dragon will experience temperatures well over 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit during peak re-entry conditions. The characteristics of the TPS, the thermal protection system, coupled with the Eclipse environmental control and life support system in the pressurised interior will ensure that the crew members stay cool and comfortable during all phases of reentry through splashdown.
Nose cone is closed
This is the final physical change or modification to the Dragon capsule prior to reentry. After the nose cone is closed, the Dragon is reoriented to make sure that the heat shield is what is pointing first toward the planet Earth and that will line up for atmospheric reentry.
The heat shield will be pointing forward leading the capsule to the landing site.
Deorbit Burn complete
The 16-minute Deorbit Burn is now complete, helping the spacecraft to slow down and decrease its altitude to meet up with the upper limits of the atmosphere. This is the burn that essentially commits the crew to that precise landing zone, just off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida.
Nose cone closure is initiated. Everything is nominal and as expected.
Key phases of the Dragon landing
MBRSC Astronaut Hazzaa AlMansoori, Astronauts Office Manager, explains the key phases of the Dragon spacecraft landing and preparations taking place.
Prime location selection
All of the splashdown sites are located off the coast of Florida, either in the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean. Spreading the supported sites across multiple locations helps maximize the return opportunities for this mission and future crews, lowering the chance to wave off due to bad weather. Yesterday NASA and SpaceX jointly selected the primary splashdown location of Jacksonville, Florida. This selection process considered a lot of different variables including the space station’s orbital trajectory, what landing sites are available and have favourable weather, how much free flight capability Dragon has before the trip home and the sleep schedule for the returning crew members will start.
NASA and SpaceX closely coordinate with the United States Coast Guard to establish a safety zone to ensure public safety and for the safety of those involved in the recovery operations as well as the crew onboard the returning spacecraft. Multiple notices are issued to the mariners in advance and during recovery operations, and Coast Guard patrol boats are deployed to discourage boaters from entering the splashdown zones.
Claw, trunk separation confirmed
Up next is the Deorbit Burn that lasts for 16 minute. It helps the spacecraft lose altitude and start to make contact with the atmosphere by slowing down
Deorbit sequence starts
It starts with claw separation preparation. Claw separation takes place for 45 seconds and after that trunk separates in about the same time.
First visuals from Crew-6 ahead of splashdown
Crew-6 rested and suited
Upon departing the station, Dragon underwent a sequence of departure burns. The crew had a rest period and has since kicked off preparations for reentry, including getting in their launching reentry suits and successfully performing a leak check.
Crew-6 re-entry explained
The NASA SpaceX Crew-6 Dragon Endeavour is currently in the last leg of its 17-hour journey to re-enter Earth. The following steps are followed after undocking from the International Space Station.
Phasing burns: If required, a series of orbit-lowering manoeuvres will be done on the spacecraft that line up its ground track with the desired landing location.
Trunk jettison: Prior to the spacecraft’s deorbit burn, the flight computer will jettison the trunk in order to reduce mass and save propellant.
Deorbit burn: The spacecraft will conduct its deorbit burn, which lasts 12 minutes.
Re-entry: The spacecraft will experience significant heating and drag as it re-enters Earth’s atmosphere, which slows the velocity to the point of safe parachute deployment.
Parachute deployment: The spacecraft’s two drogue parachutes will deploy at 5.5km followed by four main parachutes that deploy at 2km.
Splashdown: Under four main parachutes, the spacecraft will safely touch down at a velocity of 27km per hour and autonomously release its parachutes off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida.
Look who is receiving Sultan
MBRSC team is all set to receive astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi after his landing. The team consists of astronaut Hazzaa AlMansoori, Astronauts Office Manager, MBRSC; Dr. Hanan Al Suwaidi, Al Neyadi’s Flight Surgeon; and Saeed Al Emadi, from the Strategic Communication department, MBRSC.
Sultan’s reunion awaited
Family members and MBRSC officials are excited about the reunion with the Sultan of Space. “We eagerly await the reunion with Sultan to share the joy of completing the longest Arab space mission in history after six months of dedicated work and scientific experiments,” said Salem Humaid Al Marri, director general of MBRSC.
Astronauts set for ‘splashdown’
You may be able to see SpaceX's Dragon Endeavour spacecraft in the night sky just before it splashes down off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida at approximately 12:17am ET (8:17 UAE time) on Monday, September 4. Here are the best places and times to see it, NASA tweeted hours before the Crew-6 splashdown.
Highlights of the departure burns, moving the spacecraft away from the ISS
Splashdown coverage to resume on Monday
The NASA TV coverage will resume at 7am GST on Monday untill the Dragon Endeavour splashes down at approximately 8:17am, September 4, near Tampa off the coast of Florida and Crew-6 members are recovered, according to a NASA blog post
Watch: Departure sequence begins for earth reentry
The spacecraft will now begin a series of departure burns to move away from the space station. Dragon will reenter the Earth's atmosphere and splash down in approximately 17 hours.
Crew removes spacesuits, sets sights on splashdown
The crew is currently doffing their spacesuits to settle in for the flight home. They are expected to fly for 17 hours and splash down off the coast of Florida at 8:17am GST.
Astronaut Steve Bowen thanks everyone aboard
Steve Bowen thanked everyone aboard the ISS from inside the Dragon and said they (Crew-6) spent amazing six months onboard the station. In reply, NASA astronaut Frank Rubio said: “We are gonna miss you guys. But it's good to see you go and get back to your families. Great job on the mission. Godspeed and we'll see you splashing down safely in about 17 hours.”
Watch: Dragon departs from the space station
Dragon successfully undocks from ISS
Depart burns are complete and the Dragon has successfully undocked from the International Space Station. The lights that we see moving on screen is the Dragon itself. The red and green represent the port and the starboard side. The white light in the centre is actually an interior light shining through the forward hatch of the capsule.
See: Crew-6 undocks from space station
The undocking sequence has been commanded. This is a two-part process that involves retracting 12 hooks, 6 in each set. The first set of hooks is currently retracting.
The crew is now ready to undock
The Dragon completed its final configuration and the mission operators are go for the undocking procedures
Look: Minutes before Dragon Endeavour undocks
A view of the Dragon Endeavour minutes before it undocks from the ISS with Crew-6 member aboard. SpaceX expects the Dragon to push away from the station at 3.05pm in the UAE
Watch: Al Neyadi's SpaceX space gear on Dragon
Highlights of the Dragon spacecraft showing astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi donning on his SpaceX spacesuit.
Meet Al Neyadi’s Crew-6 family
Stephen G. Bowen
A retired US Navy Captain, Bowen was the first Submarine Officer to be selected as an astronaut by NASA. The veteran NASA astronaut is the commander of the Crew-6 Dragon Endeavour during its trips to and from the International Space Station. Bowen has now spent 227 days in total in space. He had logged more than 40 days in space including 47 hours and 18 minutes in seven spacewalks prior to NASA SpaceX Crew-6 mission that lasted for six months. Bowen conducted three more spacewalks during Crew-6, spending 65 hours and 57 minutes working in the vacuum of space across his four career spaceflights. During his eighth Extravehicular Activity (EVA) outside the ISS, Bowen was joined by UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi, who performed the first-ever spacewalk by an Arab.
Warren “Woody” Hoburg:
He was selected by NASA to join the 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class. He reported for duty in August 2017 and having completed the initial astronaut candidate training became eligible for a mission assignment. The Pennsylvania native earned a bachelor’s degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a Doctorate in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley. He was leading a research group at MIT at the time of his selection. He is an instrument-rated commercial pilot in single-engine and multi-engine airplanes. The pilot of NASA SpaceX Crew-6 Dragon Endeavour, Hoburg conducted his first two spacewalks along with Stephen Bowen in less than a week in June.
Andrey Valerievich Fedyaev
The only Russian cosmonaut in Crew-6, Fedyaev is Russia’s second cosmonaut to set off for the International Space Station on a Crew Dragon mission under the Russia-US cross-flight programme. He served as a mission specialist aboard Endeavour, and a flight engineer for Expedition 69 aboard the space station. Fedyaev also conducted his first spacewalk during the Crew-6 mission.
Crew-6 all set for undocking from the ISS
NASA to resume coverage of undocking of the Dragon at 5:45am Central Time/ 6:45am Eastern Time. NASA said it will be looking for the physical separation of the Dragon spacecraft from the space station at 3:05pm in the UAE.
Hatch closed, Dragon to leave station soon
There are two hatches to be closed. The one on the Dragon was closed at 4:19am and the one on the space station side was closed at 4:28am Central Time (1:19pm and 1:28pm here). The vestibule was then depressurised.
Look: Al Neyadi puts on his spacesuit and helmet
The helmets and the suits for these astronauts are designed by SpaceX and they are custom-fitted for each crew member. All crew members are now suited up for their space flight back to Earth.
Watch: Neyadi prepares to enter the Dragon spacecraft
First view from inside the Dragon ahead of undocking
Commander Stephen Bowen and pilot Woody Hoburg looking at the crew displays inside the Dragon spacecraft in the first visual of the Drgaon ahead of undocking
'Not a goodbye'
In one of his last social media posts before leaving the International Space Station, UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi said with a heart filled with gratitude and a spirit of space adventure:
“Space, this is not a goodbye. I will see you later, whether on a new mission to the ISS or a farther destination.”
He also took the opportunity to thank the country and everyone who supported his mission. “I thank my beloved country for turning our dreams into achievements and all of you for your trust and affection. Wish us a safe return. We'll meet soon.”
Al Neyadi thanks MBRSC team
Hours ahead of his return to Earth, UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi sent a huge thank you message to the team behind the success of his six-month mission aboard the International Space Station.
Historic space mission
It was a big leap for Arab space exploration when UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi blasted off to the International Space Station (ISS) six months ago. Today (September 3, 2023), the 42-year-old father-of-six from Al Ain is set to make his triumphant return to Earth following the longest and most groundbreaking Arab space mission in history that included a historic spacewalk and over 200 scientific experiments.
As he descends from the ISS along with three NASA SpaceX Crew-6 crewmates, Al Neyadi carries with him the dreams and aspirations of an entire region, demonstrating that the stars are no longer beyond reach for the Arab world.
NASA and SpaceX are targeting no earlier than Sunday, September 3 at 3.05pm GST for Dragon Endeavour to autonomously undock from the ISS. After performing a series of departure burns to move away from the space station, the Dragon will conduct multiple orbit-lowering maneuvers, jettison the trunk, and re-enter Earth’s atmosphere for splashdown off the coast of Florida approximately 17 hours later at 8.07am GST on Monday, September 4.
Aboard the spacecraft with Al Neyadi will be Crew-6 NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen and Woody Hoburg and Rocosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev who flew together to the space station when a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched the spacecraft from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at Kennedy Space Centre in Florida on Thursday, March 2 at 8.34 am GST.
UAE space mission
- Six months in space: Emirati astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi's journey in pictures
- Watch: UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi thanks MBRSC team ahead of return to Earth from space
- Watch: Heartfelt message from father of UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi ahead of reunion
- Watch: Emirati astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi exercises to study heart health in space