Emirati astronaut Hazzaa Al Mansoori.
Henry Jacob, Staff Reporter
In less than 90 hours, Emirati astronaut Hazzaa Al Mansoori takes off for the International Space Station, much to the cheer of a new spacefaring nation, UAE. The UAE has been marking new milestones in its exponential growth, and space is one of the frontiers where it seeks to make an indelible impact. With the ISS expedition, Emiratis have shown they are brave enough to map unmapped territory.
News of the landmark mission has gladdened UAE residents no end.
Maryam Al Qassimi, a graduate of international relations and history at the American University of Sharjah, says, “The Emirati space mission to ISS will be one of the greatest achievements of the UAE that would go down in history. It is a mere reflection of our nation’s advancement in technology and education. Growing up, we learned about space as if it was not an option to pursue studies in. Today, the space mission gives Emirati youth a promise to study and explore uncharted territory. It gives us the prospect to innovate and compete at the world’s stage – in the field of space and beyond.
“We will all be waiting on the first Emirati astronaut’s spaceflight, as the UAE flag will be lifted higher than it has ever been before.”
Ashraf M, a Sharjah-based professional, says, “Actually when I read about that amazing and promising space mission of Al Mansouri and Al Neyadi, I had great pride in these two Arab astronauts. They indeed symbolise the great interest which the UAE gives to space and exploring what is there, in the aim of coping up with the future updates.
“In my opinion, I believe that the exercises the astronauts experience reflect their ability and readiness to the mission. They spent six hours with no interruption in a similar environment, inside similar spaceships, how amazing!
“The mission is so precious that it should be documented in all languages to brief all peoples of the world on that astonishing mission, and I am sure it will be taken as a good model by many countries around the world.
“To be honest, the hidden meaning of the mission can be only comprehended by a few persons. The mission reflects the abilities and capabilities which the UAE has. These are not less than those the most advanced countries have.
“To be fair, all institutions inside the UAE have to give great care to the mission. For instance, the Ministry of Education has to include the mission in the curriculums so as to give students the motive to have these astronauts as a model.”
Al Mansoori will be accompanied by Nasa astronaut Jessica Meir and Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka in the Russian Soyuz spacecraft that will be launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Sept.25. He will be returning on Oct.3.
According to a report by the European Space Agency, during his short, but busy stay on the station, Al Mansoori will carry out sessions for two European experiments: Time and Fluidics. The Time experiment investigates the way astronauts perceive time in space while Fluidics looks at how fluids behave in microgravity.
He will also undertake post-fight sessions for European experiments Brain DTI and DNAm-Age, which study the effect of microgravity on the human brain and any changes in how DNA is expressed after spaceflight, and record a number of videos to be used for education and outreach.
ESA management support officer Antonio Fortunato says Hazza’s short-duration mission is just one element of the UAE’s developing space programme. They have already launched and are operating satellites from their space centre, the report added.
“The UAE want to do more and more in space. This includes learning how to carry out operations from the ground and what it means to fully support an astronaut’s mission to the International Space Station in real time,” he explains.
Fortunato says any UAE communication with astronauts on the Station will be carried out in English and routed through ESA’s Communicators or Eurocoms, but ESA’s control centre can patch through a direct link from space to ground should they need to speak in Arabic for any reason during the mission, the report adds.
Hazzaa will return to Earth in the Russian Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft on Oct.3 with Nasa astronaut Nick Hague and Roscomos cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin. The trio’s departure will mark the start of Expedition 61 as Luca takes on the role of International Space Station commander.
The mission is part of the UAE Astronaut Programme, which is overseen by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre. The UAE Astronaut Programme is the first integrated programme in the Arab region to prepare national cadres to participate in human space flights and carry out various scientific missions, in addition to becoming a part of the research carried out by the global scientific community to devise solutions to the many challenges facing humanity.
The UAE Astronaut Programme is funded by the ICT fund of the TRA. Launched in 2007, this fund, the first of its kind in the Arab world, aims at supporting research and development within the ICT sector in the UAE, helping it grow into a nationally significant industry with a leading place in the world.
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