The two contenders for first Emirati astronaut, selected from a pool of 4,200 candidates that applied to the UAE Astronaut Programme, are Hazza Al Mansoori, a pilot, and Sultan Al Neyadi, an engineer and doctor of information technology, with the final choice of first astronaut to be made in May.
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سعادة يوسف حمد الشيباني، مدير عام مركز محمد بن راشد للفضاء وسالم المري، مساعد المدير العام للشؤون العلمية والتقنية ومدير برنامج الإمارات لرواد الفضاء ورواد فضاء الإمارات، هزاع المنصوري وسلطان النيادي خلال المؤتمر الصحفي اليوم. H.E Yousuf Hamad AlShaibani, Director General of @MBRSpaceCentre, Salem AlMarri, Assistant Director General for Science and Technology Affairs and UAE Astronaut Programme Manager, and the first Emirati Astronauts, @Astro_hazzaa & @Astro_alneyadi at the @MBRSpaceCentre’s press conference.
Both men had the honour of meeting the Crown Prince of Dubai, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, ahead of the announcement of which of them will proudly represent the UAE as the first citizen to set foot on the International Space Station. The other will have the opportunity to embark upon a future mission.
Having already launched the first Emirati satellite, ‘KhalifaSat’ into space in October, the Gulf nation is developing their space programme – which includes launching a Mars probe in 2020.
The two hopefuls have received rigorous physical, technical and mental training, including zero-gravity simulations and winter survival training in case of an emergency landing, at a space centre near Moscow. They also had to learn Russian, in order to be able to communicate with the crew and ground control whilst on board the rocket. They spoke about the training they underwent at their first press conference on Monday.
The first Emirati Astronauts, Hazzaa AlMansoori and Sultan AlNeyadi during the winter survival training in Russia, part of the ongoing preparations to send the first Emirati astronaut to the International Space Station (ISS). pic.twitter.com/0ufJq8papR— MBR Space Centre (@MBRSpaceCentre) February 25, 2019
The astronaut’s sojourn at the International Space Station will be eight-days long, travelling there and back on a Soyuz MS vessel, accompanied by several crew members.
.@Astro_Hazzaa and @Astro_Alneyadi: One of us will be on the Soyuz mission to the ISS, his name will be announced in May. The other astronaut will be joining another mission in the future. Whoever is going the first, we are one team, we have one mission - to raise the #UAE flag. pic.twitter.com/mF0E36qIFT— Dubai Media Office (@DXBMediaOffice) February 25, 2019
The failure of a Soyuz spacecraft in October delayed the scheduled launch by several months, but the astronauts have declared that they are not discouraged by the news of last year's aborted mission.
رائدا الفضاء الإماراتيان هزاع المنصوري، وسلطان النيادي خلال تدريبات النجاة في البرد التي يجريها المركز الروسي "يوري غاغارين لتدريب رواد الفضاء" في إحدى غابات موسكو لتدريب رواد الفضاء على البقاء على قيد الحياة في ظروف الشتاء القاسية ودرجات الحرارة التي تنخفض عن الصفر المئوي. pic.twitter.com/phiELyxxO5— Dubai Media Office (@DXBMediaOffice) February 25, 2019
The astronaut will have a packed itinerary, conducting research on the effects of microgravity as well as creating visual content; they will present tours of the ISS’s interior and document daily life aboard the space station, in Arabic.
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