Abu Dhabi: UAE astronauts Hazza Al Mansouri and Sultan Al Neyadi will fly from Moscow to Baikonur in Kazakhstan on September 10 in preparation for the 15-day isolation phase before the launch to the International Space Station (ISS) on September 25, according to the Mohammad Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC).
The isolation stage is deemed an important factor in the success of space trips and scientific experiments where it aims to maintain the safety of astronauts within a clean environment to avoid any diseases before the launch to the international station. Normally, astronauts are isolated two weeks before the start their mission in Baikonur.
During this period, the Russian Federal Medical-Biological Agency (FMBA) is fully responsible for their health, preventing germs from entering their terrestrial and space facilities, as well as carrying out a comprehensive sterilisation of microbes. The facilities and instruments that astronauts will use are also subject to frequent sterilisation, including accommodation, buses and training sites.
Experts at the FMBA regularly take laboratory samples from various facilities and tools to check and prevent germs from moving into the spacecraft, the ISS and cosmic space in general.
Our end goal of sending the Emirati astronauts is to have a sustainable space programme, which means that the first mission to be launched on September 25 will be followed by other missions.
Immediately before the trip, health experts sterilise the cabin of the Russian spacecraft ‘Soyuz MS15’ in addition to positioning astronauts in the so-called “clean room” where they and the luggage are subject to sterilisation.
Dr Hanan Al Suwaidi, the Emirati flight surgeon assigned to the mission, is responsible for maintaining the health of the astronauts during the two-week pre-launch isolation period and will monitor the health conditions of astronaut Al Mansouri while on board. He will also monitor his health once he returns from space.
Salem Al Marri, Assistant Director-General for Scientific and Technical Affairs at MBRSC and Head of the UAE Astronaut Programme, said: “Our end goal of sending the Emirati astronauts is to have a sustainable space programme, which means that the first mission to be launched on September 25 will be followed by other missions that all eventually aim to achieve Emirates’ aspirations towards space and serving humanity.
“We have seen great cooperation and support from our friends in the Russian Federation since we signed a contract with Roscosmos and sent the two UAE astronauts for training.”
Saeed Karmostaji, manager of Astronauts Office at MBRSC, discussing the astronauts training stages, said: “Arrangements for this mission began on September 3, 2018, through intensive training for both Hazza Al Mansouri and Sultan Al Neyadi in preparation for the historic mission starting on September 25”.
Karmostaji added that the two astronauts began training at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Moscow to learn Russian language, which is a key requirement to ensure the success of the subsequent exercises on the Soyuz spacecraft. They spent a year of challenges during which they had to undergo many tests and exercises in preparation for this mission, which represents an important stage in the history of the UAE where the total number of training hours for astronauts exceeded 1,400 hours and more than 90 courses.