Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 July 2019

Astronaut Chris Hadfield tours Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre

Canadian retired astronaut discusses latest updates with UAE’s National Space Programme

Chris Hadfield, former astronaut during his visit to Dubai in 2014. Pawan Singh / The National
Chris Hadfield, former astronaut during his visit to Dubai in 2014. Pawan Singh / The National

Chris Hadfield, an astronaut who became famous for social media posts in which he played his guitar from space, has visited Dubai to learn more about the UAE’s space programme.

Commander Hadfield toured the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre and discussed the latest updates with employees of the UAE’s National Space Programme during a recent visit.

Having flown in space three times and commanded the International Space Station, Commander Hadfield is considered by some to be the most famous astronaut since Neil Armstrong.

In the five months he spent in space in 2013, he amassed hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers and garnered almost 400,000 likes on Facebook. His version of David Bowie’s Space Oddity attracted 15 million YouTube views in two weeks.

Speaking in a video produced by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, he said almost everything that exists, exists beyond the earth’s atmosphere.

“The universe is endless, and to me it’s intensely interesting. And I think it’s great that the Emirates is getting involved in that,” said Commander Hadfield.

“The satellites that you have launched, the capability to see the earth, but now participating with the other countries of the world to try and discover and understand the universe around us.

“I think it’s what we need to do and it’s delightful that I am part of that international effort also.”

Last year was a big year for the UAE’s space programme, with the launch of two satellites and announcement of plans to send the UAE’s first astronauts into space.

Either Sultan Saif Al Neyadi, a doctor of information technology, or Hazza Al Mansouri, a military pilot, will fly to the International Space Station this year.

Both have been training in Russia in preparation but only one will be selected for the mission.

Even bigger plans are to follow, with the launch of Hope, or Al Amal, the Mars Mission that will send an orbiting probe to the planet in time for the UAE’s 50th anniversary in 2021.

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