Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 24 October 2019

Emirati astronaut tells of 'historic mission' in call with Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed

Hazza Al Mansouri is set to make history next month when he becomes the first Emirati to go into space

Hazza Al Mansouri has been chosen as the first Emirati astronaut to go to space
Hazza Al Mansouri has been chosen as the first Emirati astronaut to go to space

The first Emirati astronaut to blast off into space has won the royal seal of approval ahead of his 'historic mission'.

Hazza Al Mansouri shared details of his final preparations ahead of boarding the International Space Station next month during a phone call with Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed, the Ruler's Representative in Al Dhafra and chairman of Emirates Red Crescent.

Following the call on Wednesday, Sheikh Hamdan told of his pride in the achievements of both Maj Al Mansouri and back-up astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi.

“Today, (I was) briefed on the latest preparations of the UAE astronauts, Hazza Al Mansouri and Sultan Al Neyadi, (ahead of the) launch of the first Emirati astronaut (in Space). I am proud of their enthusiasm and accomplishments,” he said.

Responding to the words of encouragement, Al Mansouri replied via Twitter.

“Thank you, His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, for the phone call and follow-up. My colleague Sultan Al Neyadi and I (are) honoured to inform you of the latest preparations for the historic mission.”

The positive exchange, which was retweeted by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), comes just days before Mr Al Mansouri will be placed in quarantine ahead of his September 25 launch to the International Space Station (ISS). Along with the rest of the main and back-up crews, the astronauts will be confined to a containment area for two weeks to ensure they are free of germs or infections ahead of the historic mission for the UAE.

Though further details of the phone discussion were not shared in full on Twitter, earlier this week Mr Al Mansouri revealed what he will take to space next month.

As well as family photos and personal belongings, he will be introducing his fellow astronauts to some Middle Eastern cuisine, as he plans to take Emirati food on board.

In addition, a copy of My Story, by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, will accompany the astronaut on the spacecraft.

The former military pilot will blast off for ISS on board a Russian Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft on September 25. He will be accompanied by Russian commander Oleg Skripochka and American astronaut Jessica Meir.

While Mr Al Mansouri will go down as the first Emirati in space, he will not be the last. Backup astronaut Mr Al Neyadi is ready to make a second fight, and the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre is developing an astronaut training corps for missions far into the future

Updated: September 9, 2019 12:37 PM

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