“The future depends on you,” the first Emirati astronaut Hazzaa AlMansoori challenged the UAE youth on Tuesday during his fourth and final live session from the International Space Station (ISS).

Two days before he returns to Earth, Hazzaa gave his final challenge to students gathered at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) for his fourth space-to-Earth video call to drive home the message of his mission--that the UAE youth has a role to play in the country’s budding space sector.

Shamma Al Mazroui, UAE Minister of State for Youth, was present during the session, along with other officials.

Hazzaa began his virtual public interaction with the students at 4.15pm, after the ISS had flown over Egypt.

“We have just passed over the Nile and we saw some pyramids. It was a great view,” Hazzaa said with a smile.

Students from various schools pitched questions revolving around the experiments Hazzaa is conducting on the ISS and how the space station works.

Using a globe, Hazzaa went on to demonstrate how the ISS revolves around the Earth 16 times a day at an altitude of around 400km.

He then answered a question on whether or not astronauts sleep with the lights on. “They save power here. As you can see, the ISS works on solar power. We switch off non-essential lights off before sleeping. But where I am in is the control centre of the ISS and we don’t switch off lights here,” Hazzaa explained.

Fatima Ahmad, a student from Sharjah school, asked Hazzaa if he would want to go back to the ISS in the future, to which he replied a resounding yes. “Space is my passion. Of course I would like to return for a second or third time and for you to come to the ISS as well in the future,” Hazzaa told Fatima.

The MBRSC has time and again said that Hazzaa’s space mission is just the beginning and he aims to pass the baton to the UAE youth.

“In the UAE, we are lucky to be living in this age. In the next generation, we aim to have many astronauts. The future depends on you,” Hazzaa said.

“Everybody should have an objective, should be passionate and pursue their dreams. We have leaders who support us and help us avail of resources to [excel] in any field. My advice is for them to grab these chances and opportunities. They must be competent and must exert every effort possible.”

At the tent, some youth accepted the challenge. Among them was Abdullah Hussain Al Shateri, an Emirati student from Abu Dhabi who dreams to become the next astronaut that will launch to space once he is of age.

Wearing a Nasa jacket adorned with patches from UAE Mission 1, Al Shateri said Hazzaa is a huge inspiration.

“I would like to be the next Hazzaa in the next five or 10 years. I have just finished high school. I will start my university in the UK in January 2020 to study aerospace engineering,” he told Gulf News.

Al Shateri said he is also exerting extra effort by attending space camps and learning the Russian language as early as now.

“Hazza and Sultan told us to learn Russian. I am now learning Russian with a teacher in an institute on the side. By the time I finish university, I’d be able to fluently speak Russian.”

Mohammad Ahli, a grade 12 student from the Uptown School who also aims to study aerospace engineering, responded to Hazzaa’s challenge. He said: “You guys have set a fine example for us. We will try our best to make you proud.”

Hazzaa ended the call at 4.32pm by showing MBRSC’s Race to Space book and banner.

Meanwhile, teams from Roscosmos, Nasa, and MBRSC have met to prepare for the landing of the crew including Hazzaa on Thursday at 3pm UAE time.

Salem Al Merri, assistant director-general of MBRSC and head of the UAE Astronaut Programme, was with the team at the landing site on Tuesday afternoon.

The Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft is expected to land in the southeast of the remote town of Zhezqazghan (formerly Dzhezkazgan), which is roughly 700km from the launch site Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Astro Hazzaa wears kandoura in space

Can anyone wear a kandoura in space and keep it from floating?

Well, the UAE’ first Emirati astronaut Hazzaa Al Mansoori managed to do that as he posed for a photo on the International Space Station (ISS).

The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) on Tuesday tweeted a photograph of Hazzaa wearing the kandoura, a white ankle-length garment traditionally worn by Emiratis and Arabs.

The photo showed Hazzaa with the rest of the crew on the ISS as they shared a meal together during the Emirati traditional night. On the background, squeeze tubes containing astronaut food could be seen on the table while liquid condiments could be seen on the wall.

Emirati food such as the balaleet, madrooba, and saloons were packed for Hazzaa’s eight-day stay in space.

Another photo showed Hazzaa wearing the traditional Emirati attire with the crew he would return to Earth with on Thursday namely Russian Commander Alexey Ovchinin and NASA astronaut Nick Hague. Their trip is scheduled for landing on Thursday at 3pm, UAE time.

In the photos, zero gravity was not an issue for Hazzaa while in his kandoura. He also proudly wore the gutra or the traditional UAE headscarf.