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Hazzaa AlMansoori arrives at the International Space Station. Image Credit: Nasa

 UAE makes history with the launch of Hazzaa AlMansoori to space. The Soyuz spacecraft carrying him and two other astronauts had blasted off to the International Space Station from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The spacecraft successfully docked at ISS in about 6 hours after blast off and the Emirati austronaut and other crew members entered International Space Station. Here's how the events unfolded.

Watch Soyuz spacecraft's journey to ISS


'Over to you. Take care of our Hazzaa'

MBR space centre tweets "over to you take care of our Hazzaa"


Hazzaa AlMansoori: "I am so happy to hear your voices. I wish I could have shared what i saw with you. Beautiful scenery of sunsets and sunrises the earth. I say hello to our leaders, our people and all the Arabs."


The crew are getting in position to speak to Earth from the ISS. When asked whether they are ready, Hazzaa AlMansoori, responds: "Yes, we're ready."


Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft's final hatch openes, Emirati astronaut Hazzaa AlMansoori and two other astronauts emerge.


ISS commander Alexey Ovchinin and Alexander Skvortsov on standby in front of the screen, smiling as they wait for their new crew members.


The first hatch of the Soyuz spacecraft docked with ISS opens. Commander Oleg said they are just equalising the pressure and will enter space station.


Very close to the hatch opening. Soyuz leak checks are almost complete, says Nasa announcer.


'We reached safely, thank God'

Contact has been established between ground team and the astronauts on the Soyuz.

Hazzaa AlMansoori speaking to MBR space centre control room " We reached safely, thank God. Hello to all my people in UAE."

Updates from Wednesday, September 25


When does the hatch open?

Ground control determines when the hatch can be opened. This is after all the latches have been connected and seals of the docking port have been checked. The hatch will be opened when Ground Control determines that all safety checks have been completed.


Docking confimed

Contact made with ISS. Docking confimed. The final phase in Hazzaa's journey to the ISS is almost over. After a successful docking, the Soyuz spacecraft will be secured in place to the ISS. Leak checks will be conducted before the hatch can be opened after two hours.

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Soyuz 61 docks with ISS Image Credit: Nasa

Watch: Soyuz spacecraft docks with ISS


Just about 20 metres away.  Commander Oleg refers to the flight manual that contains all the flight sequences and commands they have to do during the flight.


Final approach under way. The distance is about 100m now. They spun the ISS 180 degrees to ensure that the trailing end of the station would give better lighting conditions to the docking spacecraft.


Flyaround continues. Spacecraft closer to ISS in docking mode. Final approach confirmed.

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Image Credit: NASA


Flyaround has begun. Everything continuing to proceed smoothly.


Soyuz 61 comes close to the Space station. Inside 500 meters now. Flyaround to begin in about a minute.


Flyaround to begin. Spectacular view of the spacecraft from ISS. Crucial steps for docking underway. 

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Image Credit: Nasa


About 2.5 km away from the station. In another 10 minutes the flyarounds will start.


Spacecraft now just 10 km away from the ISS, says Nasa command centre. Final crucial steps for the docking under process.


It will soon be 9 members on ISS

This is the first time in four years that the crew will be more than six people.

Currently onboard are:

ISS Commander Alexey Ovchinin

NASA astronaut Nick Hague

ESA Astronaut Luca Parmitano

Russian cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov

Nasa astronauts Andrew Morgan and Christina Koch


Moments of pride


Modi congratulates UAE

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted his congratulations on the mission, and said India takes inspiration from this feat of a good and close friend for its own human space fight programme.

"Very happy to learn of the successful start to what will surely be a fabulous journey into outer space by our brother Hazzaa. I laud the vision of Sheikh @MohamedBinZayed! Congratulations UAE!"

"We take inspiration from this feat of a good and close friend for our own human space flight programme which will take an Indian into space on an Indian spacecraft by the year 2022!," Modi posted.


Sheikh Mohammed tweets on UAE achievement

“The arrival of the UAE’s first astronaut Hazaa Al Mansouri in space is a message to all Arab youth that we can make a progress and move forward. We can catch up with the others. Our next stop is Mars via the Hope probe, which is designed by our young people with competency,” His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has tweeted.

“More than two years ago, since my brother Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed and I launched the UAE Astronaut Programme. Today, we celebrate the launch of the first Emirati astronaut on a historic mission to the International Space Station... an Emirati achievement that we are proud of and we dedicate to the Arab and Islamic nations," he added.


Mohamed Bin Zayed tweets on mission success

"I proudly watched as Hazza Al Mansouri lifted off into space. This event strengthens our confidence in our youth who will take our nation to new heights and reinforces our ambitions for the future. We pray for Hazza’s success and his safe return home," His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, tweeted

Amazing photo from astronaut waiting to receive her best friend

A tweet by astronaut Christina Koch who is at the ISS, showing the second stage of the journey in progress.

Mission motivated by inspirational, visionary leadership: Sultan Al Jaber

Dr Sultan Bin Ahmad Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of State and Chairman of the National Media Council, has hailed the launch of the first Emirati astronaut, Hazza AlMansoori, to the International Space Station, ISS, today as "a great milestone that catapults the country to the ranks of advanced nations, especially in the space science."

"Motivated by the inspirational ambition of our visionary leadership, Hazza AlMansoori's mission to space reflects a strategic, forward-thinking strategy that will benefit humanity at large through in-depth scientific experiments and research in the outer space," Dr Al Jaber said.

''We congratulate our leadership and the UAE people on this trendsetting milestone, which has turned the dream of the late Founding Father, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan, into reality. The historic expedition reflects our aspirations to achieve a paradigm shift and quantum leaps in areas of development by Emirati hands,'' he added.

Al Jaber expressed pride in the successful launch and congratulated Hazza AlMansoori and his team, wishing them all success in their mission.

Hazza AlMansoori's space mission will be chronicled by the international community and adds a fresh milestone to the UAE record of achievements, he noted.

He commended the national media organisations and active social media players, which, he said, had significantly contributed to shedding light on the entry of the UAE into the space age.


Mission success

The mission is successful. Last stage completed as announced by Mission control room.


Solar arrays successfully deployed


Spacecraft in outer space

The third stage separation is complete. The #Soyuz MS -15 is now in its first orbit around the Earth. The spacecraft is in outer space.



Soyuz MS-15 blasts off to space

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Soyuz MS-15 blasts off to space Image Credit: Social Media

Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft carrying Emirati astronaut Hazzaa AlMansoori and international crew has lifted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to International Space Station.


Hazzaa's sister shares her feelings

Shamsa Al Mansouri, sister of Hazzaa AlMansouri shares her feelings in Abu Dhabi before her brother takes flight to space.


15 minutes to lift-off

15 minutes before launch: The speaker of Federal National Council Amal Abdullah Al Qubaisi arrived at the viewing deck in Baikonur to witness the launch. He is accompanied by FNC members Jamal Al Hai Hamad Bin Gulaita, and Aliyah Al Jassim. The team is in Kazakhstan for the fourth meeting of speakers of the Eurasian countries' parliaments in Nur-Sultan.


Waiting for lift-off

We're less than an hour away before launch. The viewing deck is teeming with activity as they wait for lift-off. Kids and teens dashed to the end of the viewing deck to see the rocket standing tall on the launch pad. The rocket is still enclosed in the twin gantry arms. Temperature has dipped in the area.


Hazzaa and prime crew enter spacecraft

Two hours before launch. Hazzaa and the prime crew have gone up the rocket into the Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft. The two-hour wait begins. Backup crew Emirati astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi, Nasa astronaut Thomas Marshburn and Russian commander Sergey Ryzhikov have arrived at the viewing deck.

Members of the main crew to the International Space Station (ISS) (from L) United Arab Emirates' astronaut Hazza Al Mansouri, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka and US astronaut Jessica Meir report to Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin (R) arrive to board a Soyuz rocket to the ISS, at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on September 25, 2019. Image Credit: AFP


Astronauts set to leave Earth for a journey to the ISS


We wish Hazzaa all the best: Sultan AlNeyadi

“We are only two hours away from the launch. We wish Hazzaa all the best. We are very excited to reach the space station,” said Sultan AlNeyadi.

“We are also excited to see him reach and the see the flag of the UAE at the ISS, achieving Zayed’s ambition. We wish him luck and inshallah we will see him again soon,” he added.


Hazzaa gets his spacesuit tested


Six crucial stages in Hazzaa's jouney

From lift off at Baikonur Cosmodrome to the ISS, there are six critical stages in Hazzaa's journey.



"Today I carry the dreams and ambition of my country..": Hazzaa AlMansoori tweets

"Decisive hours between glory and awe, between the passion for beginnings and the prestige of the situation. Today, I take on the pride and hopes of this country to a new dimension and horizon. Today, stay away from my homeland, my family and the earth to get closer to the stars of Zayed's ambition. I wish success until another meeting from space .. Your brother Hazzaa AlMansoori," UAE astronaut about to embark on an epic sapce journey has tweeted.

"A few hours before launch and I'm filled with this indescribable feeling of glory and awe. Today I carry the dreams and ambition of my country to a whole new dimension. May Allah grant me success in this mission. Your brother, Hazzaa AlMansoori.," he added. 


Victory sign

Officials are lined up on one side in front of the buses to see them off. Hazza makes Sheikh Mohammeds victory sign and waves goodbye to everyone. His kids were also there to bid him good-bye. They posed for some selfies with UAE officials.

The crew is on their way to the launch complex. The astronauts are expected to leave in 20 minutes. Overcast skies.

Hazza and the rest of the crew come out in space suites. They greet the crowd. Everyone is cheering loudly.


A delegation from the UAE Embassy in Kazakhstan arrived at Site 254 to wish Hazzaa well before he is taken to the launch complex. The children met with Hazza. They were happy that everything is going well.

This is the last time they will be meeting family according to Roscosmos.

Crew members are on their way out of the building on their spacesuits. Russian commander Oleg Skripochka led the team to the Baikonur Base commander to report their readiness to fly. They were given the go ahead.


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Hazzaa's daughter saying good-bye to her dad Image Credit: Janice Ponce de Leon/Gulf News

Adult diapers and suiting up

The crew is currently at Site 254 to don their Sokol spacesuits. The Sokol spacesuit will be the astronaut's lifeline while inside the spacecraft if it suddenly experiences experiences depressurisation. It's comparable to the oxygen masks that drop from the overhead compartment in airplanes when the air pressure drops. But because astronauts will be in the spacesuits for hours, astronauts have to wear adult diapers so they wouldn't have to take off the suit if nature calls.


The astronauts had brunch at 12:05 before leaving. It will be there final full meal before lift off.


An anthem

As the astronauts left today from the hotel, a song was played while crowds cheered them along, the Russian Federal Space Agency named "Grass by the Home" the official anthem of Russian cosmonauts. They adopted it as an anthem in 2009.

Trava u doma is a 1983 song by former Soviet and Russian music group Zemlyane. The lyrics were written by Anatoly Poperechny and music by Vladimir Migulya. The song is about cosmonauts in the space longing for Earth, their homes and grass near it.


Family waves goodbye

Hazzaa's kids waved goodbye to their dad as he boards the bus taking the crew onwards to the launch site. Hazzaa's three kids sported the iconic royal blue astronaut jumpsuit with a badge saying, "Future astronaut". The family was emotional, his brother was wiping his tears off. While some stood praying.

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Hazzaa's three kids sported the iconic royal blue astronaut jumpsuit with a badge saying, 'Future astronaut'. Image Credit: Janice Ponce de Leon/Gulf News
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Hazzaa's daughter saying good-bye to her dad Image Credit: Janice Ponce de Leon/Gulf News


Tree-planting tradition

Yuri Gargarin started a tradition of planting a tree before he went to space, and this practice is followed by every Cosmonaut before spaceflight.

Cosmonaut trees
Yuri Gargarin started the tree-planting tradition which has been followed by all cosmonauts after him Image Credit: Gulf News
Yuri Gargarin
This was a tradition started by Yuri Gargarin in 1961 Image Credit: Gulf News


A wait before the first phase of the journey


You can watch the launch live through the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre feed which will be embedded into our coverage.

Did you see this? The Burj Khalifa lit up on the occasion of UAE Space Mission with videos of the rocket and Hazzaa.


Hazzaa launch day
Khalid Al Jabri, Hazza's instructor and role model, is also here. Image Credit: Janice Ponce de Leon/Gulf News


Dubai expats in Baikonur

Sole Bonaventura and her husband Memo travelled all the way from Dubai to Baikonur to see Hazzaa off to his journey.

Dubai expats at Hazzaa mission
Sole Bonaventura and her husband Memo Image Credit: Janice Ponce de Leon/Gulf News


Cosmonaut Hotel
Cosmonaut Hotel Image Credit: Evangeline Elsa/Gulf News

Journalists wait outside the Cosmonaut hotel, from where the UAE astronauts, Hazzaa AlMansoori and Sultan Al Neyadi, will head to the launch site.

A historic journey

First Emirati astronaut Hazzaa AlMansoori will blast off to space onboard the Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft with Russian commander Oleg Skripochka and Nasa astronaut Jessica Meir from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Hazzaa will carry on his shoulders the hopes and dreams of Emiratis and Arabs as he breaks through into the space frontier by being the first Emirati in space and first Arab on the ISS.

Hazzaa and his backup Sultan Al Neyadi are the UAE’s national pride. Their mission is the culmination of nearly two years of preparation and hard work together with officials from the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre that oversees that UAE Astronaut Programme.

The hunt for the UAE’s first astronauts was announced no less than by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in December 2017.

Some 4,022 candidates vied to be the country’s first ambassador to space. This number was cut to 95 and was further trimmed down to 9 and then two.

When Hazzaa and Sultan were announced to be the top two candidates in September 2018, Sheikh Mohammed said: “Hazzaa and Sultan represent a new phase for Emirati youth, and they will raise the ceiling of ambitions for future generations…. Arab people can achieve, if given the suitable conditions, and the Emirati youth are representing all Arab youth.”

Hazzaa and Sultan were sent to different countries that have space programmes as part of their mission. They trained side by side at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Star City, Russia, in Nasa in the US, and the European Space Agency in Cologne, Germany.

They completed their final qualification exams on September 1 and 2 before they were flown to Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for the final launch preparations.

Today, both Hazza and Sultan stand proud with their people and the Arab world as they prove that for Emiratis, their ambitions and dreams are without limits.