UAE in Space: A hero returns home

By Janice Ponce de Leon, Staff Reporter


Dubai: Hazzaa AlMansoori, the UAE’s first Emirati astronaut and hero, is back in his motherland.

Hazzaa arrived at Al Bateen Executive Airport in Abu Dhabi on Saturday afternoon with Sultan AlNeyadi, reserve Emirati astronaut, and senior officials from the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC).

His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, received Hazzaa at the airport with top shaikhs, senior Emirati officials and children.

Hazzaa returned to Earth on October 3 after completing his eight-day mission on the International Space Station (ISS) as its first Emirati and Arab visitor.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, greeted Hazzaa on his arrival.


On their meeting, Hazzaa presented a UAE flag. This presumably is the same flag that he raised on the ISS.

Hazzaa’s children eagerly greeted their dad with a bouquet of flowers.

A hero’s welcome awaited Hazzaa as he entered the terminal where senior officials lauded him for his achievement for the country. Dozens of children sporting the iconic astronaut jumpsuit were also in queue to greet their astronaut.

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While on the ISS, Hazza made 128 orbits around the Earth and covered a distance of 4.9 million kilometres, according to Nasa. That’s equivalent to six return trips to the moon and back.

Hazzaa stayed at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre (GCTC) in Star City, Moscow in Russia upon his return to finish all the medical tests needed as part of the experiments he conducted in space.



On Twitter, Hazzaa said on Friday night: “Alexei Leonov, the first man to perform the spacewalk, left us today. His historical achievement will keep on inspiring new generations of ambitious astronauts.”


On Hazzaa’s return, Hamad AlMansoori, Chairman of MBRSC, expressed his gratitude to MBRSC’s counterparts in Roscosmos for their partnership in the mission.

He said in a tweet in Saturday afternoon: “I would like to thank Dmitry Rogozin, Director-General of Roscosmos. Roscosmos for the strategic partnership with MBRSC that has been instrumental in training the first Emirati astronauts,” AlMansoori said.

“Their contribution has facilitated the successful mission of Hazzaa AlMansoori to the International Space Station, and contributed in further developing the UAE’s space sector.”

Milestones of Hazzaa’s eight days in space:

  • – Hazzaa and his colleagues, Russian commander Oleg Skripochka and Nasa astronaut Jessica Meir, blasted off to space at 5.57pm on September 25. It was a flawless docking and the new crew, including Hazzaa entered the ISS at 2.12am, UAE time.
  • – After the mandatory rest for astronauts, Hazzaa started day one with prayer. He also began his Science in Space experiments.
  • – On his second day in space, Hazzaa made his first live space-to-Earth video call with Dubai speaking to no less than His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai who promised that Hazzaa’s “brothers and sisters will follow you and pass the same tests that you did.”
  • – Hazzaa also answered questions from curious youngsters on what living in space is like. He said he communicated with his family in various ways and during his down time, he would pause and read the Qissati.
  • – He conducted a total of four live video sessions and one radio call with students, along with one radio call with heads of UAE media organisations.
  • – During one of the video sessions, students turned flight directors for a day and sent a “command” to the ISS to operate the Int-Ball, a space drone camera. Hazzaa quizzed the students during the session and was impressed by their performance.
  • – Hazzaa conducted a total of 16 experiments, with many focusing the effects of zero gravity on his body. These experiments include Brain DTI, Osteology, motor control, time perception in microgravity, Fluidics (fluid dynamics in space), and DNAm-Age.
  • – While in space, Hazzaa took advantage of the opportunity to take snaps of the Earth. He dispelled rumors that the Earth is flat. He shared photos of the UAE, specifically the coastlines of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, a photo of Mecca, and other parts of the world.

Source Gulf News
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