Dubai: When UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi spoke from space for the first time after a successful lift-off on Thursday, he made sure there was a surprise.
Al Neyadi introduced a fifth crew member on board Crew-6 Dragon ‘Endeavour.’
“Allow me to introduce our fifth crew member,” he said, much to the surprise of the spectators of the live coverage and the SpaceX hosts of the broadcast at that point of time.
“His name is Suhail,” he said, adding that Suhail is the Arabic name for the star Canopus.
But who is Suhail? Al Neyadi did not explain it. However, the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre said Suhail is the mascot of MBRSC and a stuffed toy of the mascot is accompanying Al Neyadi to the International Space Station (ISS).
“It will be the zero-gravity indicator during the UAE Mission 2,” said MBRSC.
Speaking further, Al Neyadi said: “In the Middle East, we anticipate the appearance of Canopus because it marks the end of the summer and the beginning of cool times ... It is actually the second brightest star in the night sky.”
Al Neyadi said it was the second flight for Suhail as he had accompanied the first Emirati astronaut Hazzaa Al Mansoori in the UAE’s first space mission to ISS in 2019.
“Many people think that Suhail is an alien,” Al Neyadi said.
The audio broke when Al Neyadi said what Suhail meant to him by beginning with “but to me.” “He is in a spacesuit with high ambitions,” is all that could be heard next. A video released by MBRSC showed the tiny mascot floating near Al Neyadi while the four crew-member remained strapped aboard the Dragon spacecraft.