Dubai: All of the UAE is saying good luck to the “Sultan of Space” as the country’s second astronaut, Sultan Al Neyadi, is all set to embark on the historic space mission scheduled at 10:45am (UAE time) on Monday.
Landmarks such as Dubai Frame and Dubai Mall as well as Road and Transport Authority’s automated service kiosks and installations outside prominent locations are displaying messages about the UAE Mission 2, advertising the live coverage that is expected to begin from 7:15am tomorrow, February 27.
Watch: Burj Khalifa lights up to celebrate Al Neyadi’s space mission
On Sunday, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai, tweeted: “Inspired by the late Sheikh Zayed’s vision, Emirati astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi is set to embark on a 6-month mission to the International Space Station. We are proud of Sultan, MBRSC and everyone who aspires to achieve the best for the UAE.”
Social media was filled with similar messages ahead of the historic launch.
“All of the UAE is ready for the launch of the longest Arab space mission in history. All hearts are with astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi, who will be carrying out the mission,” the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) tweeted, showing a video of screens and buildings displaying messages about Al Neyadi’s space expedition.
Meanwhile, people of all ages and backgrounds have been showering Al Neyadi with wishes for his success.
‘May Allah bless you’
Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, was among the first to tweet in his wishes to Al Neyadi as soon as the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and the Crew Dragon spacecraft capsule, Endeavour, were rolled out to the launchpad at Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida on February 23.
Quote tweeting Al Neyadi’s tweet with the pictures of the rocket rigged to the launchpad with the capsule perched atop it, Sheikh Abdullah posted: “May Allah bless you.” Several of his followers also shared wishes of success and good luck to Al Neyadi, who has been flooded with wishes on his own social media channels as well.
Sarah Al Amiri, Minister of State for Public Education and Advanced Technology, also took to her Twitter account to share well wishes.
“Best of luck to @Astro_Alneyadi and the Crew-6 team as they embark on their journey to the
@Space_Station. We are proud of your hard work and dedication, and eagerly await your safe return home. You have shown that with perseverance and a strong spirit, nothing is impossible!” she tweeted.
MBRSC, which had launched a campaign for people who wanted to send their good luck wishes to Al Neyadi, also released a video showing students and professionals of various nationalities wishing him.
MBRSC has also tweeted photos of its top officials and team members who are present at the launch site to provide support for all aspects of the mission and cheer Al Neyadi and his backup crew Hazzaa Al Mansoori.
The senior officials include Hamad Obaid AlMansoori, Chairman, MBRSC; Yousuf Hamad Al Shaibani, the vice chairman; Salem Humaid Al Marri, the director-general; and Adnan Al Rais, mission manager, UAE Astronaut Mission 2.
MBRSC has also been sharing video messages from its team members who are also urging people to watch the live broadcast of “Zayed’s Ambition” fulfilling once again. Some of them featured include Noora Al Mheiri, science researcher, Science Education and Outreach Utilisation Plan, and Amna Al Nuaimi, lead, Education and Outreach.
UAE family’s pride
Almost all family members and extended family members of Al Neyadi are also present in Florida, USA, to witness the historic achievement of their family’s pride.
Salem Humaid Al Marri on Friday night shared a photo of a group of around 30 male members of Al Neyadi’s family posing in front of the NASA logo at the Kennedy Space Centre (KSC).
“We are all your family for this mission, Sultan. All of the UAE is your proud family!” he said in the tweet, putting an emoji of the UAE’s flag. “We have Sultan Al Neyadi’s family accompanying us at the Kennedy Space Centre a few days before his launch to carry out the first Arab long-duration astronaut mission,” he added in the description.
Kuwait-based Dr Mohamed Qasem, who has been named one of the top science communicators in the Arab world, also shared a photo with the “respected and beautiful” Al Neyadi family at KSC. He also tweeted video clips of Al Neyadi meeting his family members, friends and well-wishers at KSC premises on Saturday.
Al Neyadi arrived with three of his children and spoke to those awaiting him in Arabic. He could be seen discussing about the mission and spending Ramadan in space.
“We talked to him from a distance. His family and friends were very enthusiastic about him and prayed for his safety and protection,” Dr Qasem stated in Arabic.
Traits of a leader
“One of the things I liked was that he greeted the guests one by one. This shows the extent of his scrutiny and care in matters. He was confident that he would do the job, and he is perfectly trained for it with many years of training.”
“I noticed that he had a warm relationship with other pioneers. It was not only a matter of work, but friendship and brotherhood,” he said, referring to Al Neyadi’s bond with Al Mansoori, who was seen tagging him along and capturing his videos.
Dr Qasem pointed out that Al Mansoori’s “focus and attention was on his brother in leadership role, Sultan.”
“NASA workers made sure that he didn’t get too close to us to protect him from any chance of getting sick. Because they don’t want to transport any microbe to the International Space Station. It’s hard to handle an astronaut there,” he added.
Meanwhile, MBRSC has been tweeting videos of Al Mansoori giving updates about Al Neyadi’s training sessions and explaining how things will unfold on the big day for his colleague who was once his backup when he became the first UAE astronaut to go to ISS in 2019. He also shared his best wishes to Al Neyadi and advised him to enjoy the gravity of Earth as he will miss it for the next six months.
‘We’re proud of you’
Al Mansoori also expressed his pride in Al Neyadi and wished him all the best for his upcoming mission, stating that “We are with you. We are proud of you. You were part of the first mission and now we are part of the second mission. We are all one team with one shared goal, which is to raise UAE’s flag in space.”