Emirati astronauts Hazza Al Mansouri and Sultan Al Niadi will be the first Arab-Emirati astronauts to travel to the International Space station Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: Come September 25, the UAE’s dream of sending its first astronaut to space will become a reality, officials announced on Monday.

A three-man crew carrying one of the two Emirati astronauts, Hazza Al Mansouri and Sultan Al Neyadi, will lift off to the International Space Station (ISS) for an eight-day mission, officials of the Mohammad Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) said.

A three-man crew carrying one of the two Emirati astronauts, Hazza Al Mansouri and Sultan Al Neyadi, will lift off to the International Space Station (ISS) for an eight-day mission, officials of the Mohammad Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) said.

Rocket

The Soyuz-MS 15 spacecraft will blast off to space seven months from today, returning to Earth on October 3.

Milestone

"Announcing the date is a milestone and a great achievement for the entire Arab region. For the first time, an Arab astronaut will travel to the ISS so the Arab youth can aspire to repeat the accomplishments of their ancestors who excelled in science, mathematics, especially astronomy," said Yousuf Ahmad Al Shaibani, Director-General of MBRSC.

"This step also confirms the aspiration of Emiratis, and their determination to achieve the vision of the UAE's wise leadership, and support the UAE in exploring and preparing national cadres that contribute to enriching scientific progress to serve humanity and making more achievements in the industry," he added.

UAE astronauts Hazza Ali Obdan Khalifa Al Mansouri and Sultan Saif Muftah Hamad Al Niyadi went through rigorous training in Russia.

They survived the three-day winter survival training last month at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Zvevdini (Star City), Moscow, in preparation for their trip to the International Space Station this year.

One of the two UAE astronauts will be sent to space on September 25, but it was not immediatley clear who among the two.

The UAE astronaut will be back on earth on October 3.

The winter survival training enables astronauts to overcome harsh winter conditions in cases of emergency landing in remote areas in Russia.

During the training, they learnt how to get out of a damaged capsule, build two types of shelters, utilise available resources, and communicate with research teams through visual signals by using flares or wirelesa communication.

UAE astronauts undergo survival training in Russia. Image Credit: Screengrab

Once on the space station, the astronaut's schedule will be packed as he will have tasks assigned to him every hour of the day.

His main research will focus on the effect of microgravity on research subjects, compared to gravity on Earth.

"Research will be conducted on the reaction of vital indicators of the human body at ISS, in comparison with Earth, before and after the trip. This is the first time this kind of research will be done by an astronaut from the Arab region. The results of this study will be later compared with research conducted on astronauts from other regions," Al Merri said.

Emirati astronauts Hazza Al Mansouri and Sultan Al Niadi will be the first Arab-Emirati astronauts to travel to the International Space station Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Aside from doing research, the Emirati astronaut will also present a tour inside the ISS in Arabic — to show the components of the station, equipment on board, and methods of conducting experiments at microgravity. The tour will serve as a reference for the Arab region.

Two Emirati astronauts Hazza Al Mansouri and Sultan Al Niyadi, as part of the UAE Astronaut Program undergoing a specially-designed intensive training at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Russia. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives/WAM

Childhood dream

Both Emirati astronauts were presented to the media for the first time on Monday. The duo shared their interest in space since they were young.

"My passion for space is a childhood dream and I am realising it now," Hazza, a military pilot, said.

Sultan said he was seven years old when his dream to reach space began.

"I was excited about the idea. 'Can I really be an astronaut someday?' Perhaps it's a crazy idea, I thought," Sultan said, adding destiny led him to apply as an astronaut when the programme was launched in 2017.

Flight pushed back

Originally set to launch to space in April, the flight had to be pushed back by about five months following an unprecendented mid-flight failure of a manned Soyuz-MS 10 spacecraft in October.

The three-man crew travelling to the ISS had to make an emergency landing due to a faulty sensor that was designed to signal stage separation.

Because of the malfunction, the boosters did not properly separate, causing the first and second stages of the rocket to collide.