Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 21 January 2020

Emirati astronaut in space: Hazza Al Mansouri live Q&A from the International Space Station

Hazza Al Mansouri answers questions from hundreds of pupils at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre

While he wasn't twirling his microphone to demonstrate the effects of zero gravity, for about 25 minutes he had the Arab world in his hands.

Maj Hazza Al Mansouri, the UAE’s first astronaut, fielded several questions at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre on Friday in a live call aboard the International Space Station.

A packed room of pupils and students clapped and cheered as Maj Al Mansouri appeared on screen from the space station.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, spoke with Maj Al Mansouri as pupils clapped as Major Al Mansouri's microphone floated and rotated in space.

“We are amongst the stars and you are the first and we always remember the first," Sheikh Mohammed said to Maj Al Mansouri. "But we will have caravans of Emirati astronauts who will go to face and will pass through the same process that you have passed through."

Sheikh Mohamed Bin Rashid talks with Emirati astronaut, Hazza Al Mansouri, during a live satellite feed from the International Space Station. Courtesy Dubai Media Office
Sheikh Mohamed Bin Rashid talks with Emirati astronaut, Hazza Al Mansouri, during a live satellite feed from the International Space Station. Courtesy Dubai Media Office

Maj Al Mansouri replied: "May God be with you all, you always urge us to be in the first ranks. Thank you for giving us all the opportunity for Emirati youth…. may God reward you for being with us.

"When we reached the outer space of the atmosphere, it was an indescribable feeling. The best feeling was when I saw Earth from Space. Unbelievable landscape.

"When I saw the UAE it was the best feeling I’ve ever had in my life.

Sheikh Mohammed replied by promising UAE will go to Mars.

"We promise you that you will go to Mars. Our second goal is to reach mars... Impossible does not exist if we have the strong will of mankind.”

Sheikh Mohammed concluded: “We are so proud of you."

Maj Al Mansouri then turned to answering questions from UAE pupils.

One asked about the experiments that he will be doing at the ISS while another asked him if he could see the UAE.

"The best landscape was the UAE. I had to catch my breath when I saw the Palm Islands and I can tell you all the astronauts were waiting for the moment they could pass over the UAE and see the Palm," he said.

Another wanted to know what advice Maj Al Mansouri would have for anyone who wanted to become an astronaut and go to the international space station. Another asked about what zero gravity feels like.

"Hello, hello look, look at me, I’m just floating, I don’t know what to tell you," Maj Al Mansouri said. It’s a very wondrous feeling as if in a dream."

For many, watching the UAE’s first astronaut in space was an achievement that showed anything is possible.

Young children at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre watched the live broadcast dressed up in space suits with tags that read Future Astronaut.

Bushra Al Janaahi, a 22-year-old Emirati who has just completed studies in multimedia design said: "I felt inspired. I am here with my niece and she wanted to wear an astronaut's suit and be here. My niece was so excited when she saw him.

"Now children know that is it is possible for them to be an astronaut, they will think of this as an option."

A young boy dressed as an astronaut attends the live call with Emirati Maj Al Mansouri. Chris Whiteoak / The National
A young boy dressed as an astronaut attends the live call with Emirati Maj Al Mansouri. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Butti Ahmed, an Emirati pupil, said: "I enjoyed the live call and also liked watching the rocket take off on Wednesday.

“If I got the chance to ask Major Al Mansouri a question I would like to ask him how it feels to be in space."

His father, Ahmed Al Sayegh, a government official in Dubai, said: "Watching Hazza Al Mansouri in space makes children believe that nothing is impossible."

Sheetal Palshetkar, an Indian resident in Dubai, said she brought her children to the space centre to be inspired by Maj Al Mansouri.

“When children have experiences like this and see the astronaut and get the chance to speak with him, they feel like why not me? They feel inspired to study space. This motivates children,” she said.

Her nine-year-old son, Shourya, a grade five pupil at International Indian School in Dubai Silicon Oasis said he enjoys studying about space exploration and his favourite planet is Mars.

"I came here today to see the astronaut float,” said Shourya.

Aarya Palshetkar, a six-year-old, grade one pupil at International Indian School in Dubai Silicon Oasis got a high-five from Sheikh Mohamed Bin Rashid today.

“It felt good,” said Aarya.

Mohammed Nabahan Padshah, a 10-year-old pupil at International Indian School in Dubai Silicon Oasis said: "I enjoyed watching the astronaut speak to us from space. everything was floating he gave a good speech.”

“I loved watching him float and watching the microphone he was using spin. I got to see how it feels in space. I want to be an aeronautical engineer and love making drawings about space."

Nuha Padshah, a 16-year-old who attends Our Own English High School in Al Warqa said: “ I never had the chance to see anyone in space and this was a first for me. This event inspired my brother. He also believed he can become an astronaut."

On Wednesday, Major Al Mansouri made history as he became the first Emirati to travel the International Space Station. After a historic blast-off from Kazakhstan, the Soyuz MS-15 docked at the International Space Station at 11.42pm UAE time on Wednesday.

The UAE's first astronaut also answer edquestions that had been sent by people through the Twitter campaign #AskHazzaa launched by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre.

The live call lasted around 25 minutes.

Major Al Mansouri will be tuning in for more live broadcast while onboard the ISS over the next four days. The next live broadcast will take place tomorrow at 1.30pm UAE time.

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In pictures: Emirati astronaut in space

Updated: September 27, 2019 04:57 PM

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