Dubai, UAE, 26 September 2020: The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) today commemorates the one-year anniversary of the historic launch of the first Emirati to space and the first Arab to the International Space Station. Emirati astronaut Hazzaa AlMansoori embarked on the 8-day mission onboard the Russian spacecraft Soyuz MS-15, at 5:57 pm UAE time on September 25, 2019 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
The successful launch was a major achievement for the Arab world and a new dawn for the region's space sector. The accomplishment was the realization of the dream of the father of the nation, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and the vision of the leadership to make the country a leading player in shaping the world's future.
During the mission, AlMansoori conducted 16 scientific experiments in cooperation with international space agencies, including the European Space Agency (ESA), the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). He studied reactions of vital indicators of the human body, including brain function, osteology, haemodynamics, motor control, time perception in microgravity and fluid dynamics in space, among others.
AlMansoori also conducted experiments involving schools in the UAE as part of MBRSC's Science in Space initiative. In a joint project between MBRSC and JAXA, he live streamed from the ISS explaining how JAXA's “Int-Ball”, a camera robot, worked on board the Station. A video conference was also held in cooperation with the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos, where students interacted with AlMansoori asking space related queries.
AlMansoori returned to Earth on October 3 after completing his eight-day mission on the ISS. Following the successful mission, MBRSC, through its Outreach Programme conducted events, workshops, conferences with various entities including academic institutions across the UAE with astronauts AlMansoori and Sultan AlNeyadi. Interacting with people from all walks of life, the Emirati astronauts talked in detail about the importance of STEM subjects, their historic achievements, experiences, as well as the scientific and mathematical aspects of life as an astronaut. More than 120,000 people from 35 entities have taken part in these interactive sessions with the Emirati astronauts since Hazzaa AlMansoori's return.
AlMansoori and AlNeyadi are currently undergoing advanced training at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, USA, as part of the strategic partnership between NASA and MBRSC to train Emirati astronauts. The partnership is aimed at preparing Emirati astronauts for advanced space missions by providing them with the highest level of expertise and knowledge.
MBRSC is also shortlisting candidates for the second batch of the UAE Astronaut Programme, which will be announced early next year. The second batch of the Programme is aimed at finding the next two astronauts, who will join the UAE's astronaut corps and further the country's ambition for crewed space missions. The UAE Astronaut Programme aligns with the nation's ambitions and interests to enhance the role of the space sector and its contribution to making the UAE among the leaders in the sector. Both AlMansoori and AlNeyadi are part of the selection committee, which includes specialists and experts from MBRSC.
HE Yousuf Hamad AlShaibani, Director General, MBRSC, said: “Today we are celebrating a memorable anniversary from the UAE's growing list of achievements. We express our pride on this national milestone, which has become part of an inspiring success story from the region. The wise Emirati leadership has charted a clear future strategy aimed at making the UAE a pioneer across all fronts. The effectiveness of this approach is evident through the success of the UAE Astronaut Programme, which represents one of the cornerstones for the future of the space sector in the region. The launch of the first Emirati astronaut in space has signalled the arrival of the UAE in regional and global list of spacefaring nations.”
HE AlShaibani further added: “Preparing Emirati cadres to contribute to enriching scientific progress in the service of humanity is a long-term goal of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre. We are constantly working on the development and sustainability of ambitious activities in space sciences and exploration. A clear indication of this is the continuous efforts to enhance the expertise of Emirati astronauts and develop their competencies at the highest international levels in preparation for the next stage, and to enhance the country's ambitions in space exploration missions. The UAE Astronaut Programme has also inspired Emirati youth to follow the path of space knowledge and contribute to space sciences; the field of which major countries in the world are competing to be listed in the top ranks.”
Salem AlMarri, Head of the UAE Astronaut Programme, MBRSC, said: “The country's achievement in launching the first Emirati into space was a product of the ambitious vision of the leadership and calculated approach towards becoming a pioneer in the sector in the region. The UAE Astronaut Programme is an extension of the strategy of effective international participation and efforts in space research and research and development. Emirati astronauts Hazzaa AlMansoori and Sultan AlNeyadi play a crucial role in helping the UAE space sector to achieve more milestones in the science of space research. Our capabilities in the space sector continue to grow and develop at a rapid pace, and the upcoming Emirati astronauts will add great momentum to enhance the ambition of the UAE's space exploration mission.”
Commenting on the anniversary of the launch, Hazzaa AlMansoori said: ' I am full of pride that the dream of the Father of our Nation Sheikh Zayed – who envisioned Emiratis to reach space and who taught us that nothing is impossible – was realised on this day. Our journey has been full of challenges, but thanks to the support of our wise leadership and the efforts of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre, a deep passion for space science has been instilled among the youth of the region. I look forward to continue sharing the knowledge we gain through our journey as astronauts.”
Reminiscing the launch, Sultan AlNeyadi said: “I remember the launch of Hazzaa like it was just yesterday. It was a very nostalgic moment, as we had trained and prepared for the mission together. Watching Hazzaa on the day of the launch, I felt like I was the one on board the rocket.”
He added: “We are lucky to be part of a country that supports the ambitious vision of its youth and enables them to innovate and contribute to achieve the impossible.”
The UAE Astronaut Programme is one of the projects managed by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre and funded by the ICT Fund of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), which aims to support research and development in the ICT sector in the UAE.