Dubai: Hazzaa AlMansoori, the UAE’s first Emirati astronaut and hero, is back in his motherland.
His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, received Hazzaa at the airport with top shaikhs, senior Emirati officials and children.
Hazzaa arrived at Al Bateen Executive Airport in Abu Dhabi on Saturday afternoon with Sultan AlNeyadi, reserve Emirati astronaut, and senior officials from the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC).
On their meeting, Hazzaa presented a UAE flag. This presumably is the same flag that he raised on the ISS.
Hazzaa's children eagerly greeted their dad with a bouquet of flowers.
Dozens of children sporting the iconic astronaut jumpsuit were also in queue to greet their astronaut.
Hazzaa returned to Earth on October 3 after completing his eight-day mission on the International Space Station (ISS) as its first Emirati and Arab visitor.
A hero's welcome also awaited Hazzaa as he entered the terminal where senior officials lauded him for his achievement for the country.
High spirit, strong resolve and determination
Shaikh Mohamed congratulated Al Mansoori on his safe return to the UAE, after his successful mission to the ISS, praising his high spirit, strong resolve and determination, which he showed while performing all tasks assigned to him.
“Hazzaa has reflected the bright image of the UAE and its people to the entire world and reaffirmed our country’s leadership and determination to participate in advancing the human development,” Shaikh Mohamed said.
The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi praised Sultan Al Neyadi for his enthusiasm and sincerity in supporting his brother Hazzaa before and during the trip, stressing that working in a team spirit is the basis of success and excellence.
He also thanked all members of the UAE team who contributed to conducting this mission and helped to achieve its goals and objectives, including engineers, technicians and others.
Source of inspiration
"The Emirati team has worked hand in hand and in one spirit to bring about one goal, bring glory to the UAE in the international arena."
Addressing the two Emirati astronauts, Sheikh Mohamed noted: “You are a role model for young people who we are proud of and trust in real and serious challenges.
“You are today a model and good example for all UAE and Arab youth. The journey to the ISS will remain a source of inspiration and an incentive for the nation’s youth to genuinely work for the UAE’s progress.”
“From the beginning and once the UAE space programme was developed, we insisted that Emiratis will be the ones who will implement this project. We have worked hard to prepare qualified and trained national cadres in this field, as our country’s ultimate goal is to participate actively in the space exploration and build a knowledge-based economy," he added.
Sheikh Mohamed affirmed that since its founding, the UAE believes that its people are the real fortune and are the best investment for the present and the future.
"Hazzaa Al Mansoori, Sultan Al Neyadi and their brothers working in the UAE Space Programme are laying the strong foundations for towards achieving our ambitions and reaching the Mars.
“I’m fully confident that Emiratis are capable of facing challenges and be successful in the space sector, as evidenced by what Hazzaa has done,” Shaikh Mohammad concluded.
At a special forum arranged to celebrate their return, Hazzaa, Sultan and Salem Al Merri, Head of the UAE Astronaut Programme, shared the highlights of the mission with the crowd.
"When we arrived home, I saw Zayed’s pride in the eyes of Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and on all your faces," Hazzaa said in an emotional address, adding, he saw a “40-year-old dream coming true” when he returned to the #UAE.
128 Earth orbits
While on the ISS, Hazzaa made 128 orbits around the Earth and covered a distance of 4.9 million kilometres, according to Nasa. That’s equivalent to six return trips to the moon and back.
Hazzaa stayed at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre (GCTC) in Star City, Moscow in Russia upon his return to finish all the medical tests needed as part of the experiments he conducted in space.
Returning with Hazzaa is Hamad Obaid AlMansoori, Chairman of MBRSC; Yousuf Al Shaibani, Director-General of MBRSC, Salem Al Merri, Assistant Director-General of MBRSC and Head of the UAE Astronaut Programme; Saeed Karmustaji, Head of the Astronauts’ Office.
Meanwhile, on the eve of his return, Hazzaa paid tribute to legendary cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, the world’s first human to walk in space.
Leonov passed away after a long battle with an illness. He was 85.
On Twitter, Hazzaa said on Friday night: “Alexei Leonov, the first man to perform the spacewalk, left us today. His historical achievement will keep on inspiring new generations of ambitious astronauts.”
On Hazzaa's return, Hamad AlMansoori, Chairman of MBRSC, expressed his gratitude to MBRSC's counterparts in Roscosmos for their partnership in the mission.
He said in a tweet in Saturday afternoon: "I would like to thank Dmitry Rogozin, Director-General of Roscosmos. Roscosmos for the strategic partnership with MBRSC that has been instrumental in training the first Emirati astronauts," AlMansoori said.
"Their contribution has facilitated the successful mission of Hazzaa AlMansoori to the International Space Station, and contributed in further developing the UAE’s space sector.”
Milestones of Hazzaa’s eight days in space:
- Hazzaa and his colleagues, Russian commander Oleg Skripochka and Nasa astronaut Jessica Meir, blasted off to space at 5.57pm on September 25. It was a flawless docking and the new crew, including Hazzaa entered the ISS at 2.12am, UAE time.
- After the mandatory rest for astronauts, Hazzaa started day one with prayer. He also began his Science in Space experiments.
- On his second day in space, Hazzaa made his first live space-to-Earth video call with Dubai speaking to no less than His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai who promised that Hazzaa’s “brothers and sisters will follow you and pass the same tests that you did.”
- Hazzaa also answered questions from curious youngsters on what living in space is like. He said he communicated with his family in various ways and during his down time, he would pause and read the Qissati.
- He conducted a total of four live video sessions and one radio call with students, along with one radio call with heads of UAE media organisations.
- During one of the video sessions, students turned flight directors for a day and sent a “command” to the ISS to operate the Int-Ball, a space drone camera. Hazzaa quizzed the students during the session and was impressed by their performance.
- Hazzaa conducted a total of 16 experiments, with many focusing the effects of zero gravity on his body. These experiments include Brain DTI, Osteology, motor control, time perception in microgravity, Fluidics (fluid dynamics in space), and DNAm-Age.
- While in space, Hazzaa took advantage of the opportunity to take snaps of the Earth. He dispelled rumors that the Earth is flat. He shared photos of the UAE, specifically the coastlines of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, a photo of Mecca, and other parts of the world.