The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) has announced that it has selected Hazzaa Al Mansoori as the prime astronaut and Sultan Al Neyadi as the backup astronaut for the International Space Station (ISS) mission.
Al Mansoori and Al Neyadi are currently undergoing training at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Star City, Russia in preparation for the mission.
Al Mansoori will now fly for an eight-day space mission to ISS aboard a Soyuz-MS 15 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on September 25 and return to Earth aboard a Soyuz-MS 12.
Yousuf Hamad Al Shaibani, director general of MBRSC, said that this announcement is a major step towards achieving the objectives of the UAE Astronaut Programme to train and prepare a team of Emiratis to be sent to space for various scientific missions.
The programme was announced by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, in 2017.
During his stay at ISS, Al Mansoori will undertake a scientific mission to study the impact of microgravity in comparison with that of gravity on Earth.
This mission includes 15 experiments that will be selected based on MBRSC’s Science in Space competition, which targets schools in the UAE.
Al Mansoori graduated from the Khalifa Bin Zayed Air College and was one of the first Arab and Emirati pilots to take part in the Dubai Air Show’s celebrations of the 50th anniversary of UAE Armed Forces.
Al Neyadi holds a PhD in Information Technology (Data Leakage Prevention) and worked as Network Security Engineer for the UAE Armed Forces before joining the UAE Astronaut Programme.
Al Mansoori and Al Neyadi were selected from 4,022 applicants to the UAE Astronaut Programme after a series of advanced medical and psychological tests as well as personal interviews conducted according to the highest international standards.
Salem Al Marri, assistant director general for Science and Technology Sector and head of the UAE Astronaut Programme, said Al Mansoori will be the first Arab astronaut to travel to the ISS.
This edited article first appeared in Arabian Business.