Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 20 May 2019

UAE astronauts are fitted for seats on board Soyuz rocket

Astronauts get measured by engineers ahead of September journey to International Space Station

The UAE's first astronauts are being fitted for customised seats on board the Soyuz rocket that will carry one of them to the International Space Station in September.

In a video, released by Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre on Sunday, Hazza Al Mansouri and Sultan Al Neyadi are seen having their measurements taken by a team of engineers before being lowered into chairs and having quick-setting plaster poured around them.

The moulds will be used to produce an ergonomic seat that will be fitted into the rocket — which blasts off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

“Beginning to design two custom Soyuz MS-15 seats for Hazza Al Mansouri and Sultan Al Neyadi is a new and important step in sending the first Arab and Emirati astronaut to the ISS," said Yousuf AlShaibani, Director General of Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre.

Mr Al Mansouri, 34, was selected last month to become the first Emirati to go into space. Mr Al Neyadi was named as his understudy.

The pair have been undergoing a training programme at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Star City, Russia, before September’s mission.

Mr Al Mansouri is due to board a Soyuz-MS15 spacecraft for an eight-day space journey which will take him to the ISS. He will return to Earth via a Soyuz MS12 ship.

Both men were selected from thousands of applicants who had hoped to make a giant leap for the region as the first Emirati in space.

When Mr Al Mansouri arrives at the ISS he will present a tour of the station in Arabic as well as documenting the daily lives of astronauts at the station, conducting earth observation and imaging experiences and interacting with ground stations.

The mission will also include 15 experiments based on the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre’s Science in Space programme, which targets UAE schools.

The project is viewed as the first step in the UAE’s long-term strategy for space.

This includes launching a probe to Mars, to mark the country’s 50th anniversary, in 2021 and establishing a colony on the Red Planet by 2117.

Updated: May 5, 2019 07:23 PM

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