The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) announced that 25 September 2019 will be the launch date of the first Emirati Arab astronaut’s trip to the International Space Station (ISS).
The announcement came during a press conference held by MBRSC that featured His Excellency Yousuf Hamad Al Shaibani, Director General of MBRSC; and Salem Al Marri, Assistant Director General for Scientific and Technical Affairs and Head of the UAE Astronaut Programme at MBRSC.
Hazzaa Al Mansoori and Sultan Al Neyadi, the first two Emirati astronauts from the UAE Astronaut Programme, also attended the event.
The UAE Astronaut Programme was launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces in 2017, to train and prepare Emirati astronauts to travel to space on various scientific missions.
The details of the mission to ISS were revealed during the press conference.
HE Al Shaibani said that one of the astronauts will fly to ISS on Wednesday, 25 September 2019 for an eight-day Russian space mission to ISS aboard a Soyuz-MS 15 spacecraft and will travel back aboard a Soyuz-MS 12.
The second astronaut will continue training for future missions.
Al Marri noted that the date of the flight was postponed from April to September 2019 following a launch accident of the Soyuz-MS 10 spacecraft in October.
"The astronauts’ safety is at the top of our list of priorities, so the date was postponed to 25 September. We are pleased that the mission to ISS will take place this year, despite the obstacles faced by our partners at the Russian space agency Roscosmos,” said Al Marri.
Al Marri highlighted that this will be the first time that an astronaut will present an introductory tour in Arabic at ISS.
In the introductory tour, he will explain the components of the station, the equipment on board and methods of conducting experiments in zero gravity.
The astronaut will be conducting earth observation and imaging experiences, and interacting with ground stations, sharing information and experiences, as well as documenting the daily lives of astronauts at the station.
Al Marri confirmed that the visual content of these tours will serve as an Arabic reference and will be available for all those interested in the space sector from the Arab region.
Al Marri noted that the astronaut's schedule at ISS will be very busy as he has tasks assigned to him every hour of the day.
Al Marri explained that the Emirati astronaut will also be assigned on existing scientific missions in the ISS laboratories, according to the timing and duration of his stay, in addition to the research he will conduct for the UAE’s schools and universities.
Al Mansoori and Al Neyadi thanked the UAE’s leadership for providing all the support and resources needed to achieve their ambitions.
Al Mansoori and Al Neyadi were selected from a total 4,022 candidates who applied to the UAE Astronaut Programme after a series of advanced medical and psychological tests as well as personal interviews conducted according to the highest international standards.
The UAE Astronaut Programme is funded by the ICT fund of the TRA. Launched in 2007, this fund, the first of its kind in the Arab world, aims to support research and development in the UAE’s ICT sector to help it grow into a nationally significant industry that occupies a leading place in the world.