Historic homecoming of UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi scheduled for September 18

Dubai: It’s official! The historic homecoming of the Sultan of Space, UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi, after the longest Arab space mission, has been set for September 18.

“After astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi took Zayed’s Ambition into space, the time has come for him to return home. Stay tuned for his return to the UAE on September 18, following the completion of the longest Arab space mission in history,” the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC) announced on the X microblogging platform on Thursday. .

The 42-year-old Emirati, who blasted off into space on March 3, spent 186 days in space to complete the first long-duration manned space mission carried out by an Arab aboard the International Space Station (ISS). He scripted the story for the second time when he became the first Arab to perform a spacewalk, an Extravehicular Activity (EVA), in the vacuum of outer space outside the ISS on April 28.

Their mission was called Zayed Ambition 2 because it was the second edition of the UAE Astronaut Program which aimed to fulfill the ambition of the nation’s Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft

Al Neyadi and his NASA SpaceX Crew-6 crewmates returned to Earth aboard SpaceX’s Dragon Endeavor spacecraft, splashing down at 8:17 a.m. GST on September 4, off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida. The four, who had orbited the Earth just under 3,000 orbits, then flew to Houston.

A senior official at MBRSC, the agency behind the UAE Astronaut Programme, then announced that Al Neyadi will fly to the UAE after two weeks.

During a conference call with NASA SpaceX media after the successful return of Crew-6 members to Earth, Adnan Al Rais, mission manager of the UAE Astronaut Program at MBRSC, said: “He [Al Neyadi] I’ll spend about 14 days here in Houston. And after that, he will be back in the UAE for almost a week.”

Great reception

According to Salem Humaid Al Marri, Director General of the MBRSC, a grand reception is planned for the Sultan of Space, who returns home after successfully completing the longest Arab space mission.

After celebrations to commemorate his historic achievements, which include more than 200 scientific experiments in space, Al Neyadi will return to the United States, Al Rais confirmed.

“On the other hand, he will return here to Houston to continue conducting scientific experiments.”

From Earth to space and back

Currently undergoing a recovery program to readjust to Earth’s gravity, Al Neyadi and two of his Crew-6 colleagues, NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen and Warren Woody Hoburg, spoke for the first time about their life in space and his return to Earth during a press conference broadcast on NASA TV Tuesday night.

From savoring mango salads and playing chess in space to struggling to hold a water bottle once back on Earth, Al Neyadi shared the joys of his life aboard the ISS and the challenges he faced upon his return.

Having lived for 184 days in weightlessness in the orbital laboratory’s microgravity environment, Al Neyadi said everything felt heavy after falling to Earth.

He also admitted that the feeling of weight even led him to give up drinking water from a bottle, as he preferred to minimize unnecessary movements.

He said: “I remember Steve gave me a bottle of water. He felt really heavy, like a ton. I just didn’t drink it because he didn’t want to move me much…”

However, he was surprised by how quickly the human body can adapt to the sudden change from microgravity to the Earth’s gravitational pull.

“It’s amazing how quickly you can improve,” he said, revealing that the recovery process unfolds every hour.

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