September 25 will forever be a special day in the history of the emirates – it was on this day that the first astronaut from the UAE went into space.
Out of more than four thousand applications for the right to become the first, 35-year-old professional pilot Hazzaa Al Mansouri was selected. He went to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of a space expedition. The Soyuz-FG rocket was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome (Kazakhstan) at 05:56 PM UAE time.
The astronaut will spend eight days on the ISS and will return to Earth on October 3. Together with Al Mansouri (with Sultan Al Neyadi as the back-up astronaut), the main crew also included Oleg Skripochka (Russia) and Jessica Meir (USA). In addition to the crew, equipment, research materials and other materials for the life support of astronauts onboard the ISS, including fresh fruits and vegetables, will also be carried on board.
But besides practical things, Al Mansouri took on board more significant objects that emphasize the importance of the historical moment, such as the flags of the UAE, the Holy Quran, and several other equally sacred things. The astronaut’s “luggage” also includes books, such as, for example, Race to Space from Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center and My Story by Sheikh Mohammed. He will also take with him the seeds of the Ghaf tree, which will then be planted in different places of the country as a memory of the historical significance of the space mission.
The first astronaut received support and appreciation from senior officials of the UAE. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, has repeatedly spoken about the great importance of the mission of the first astronaut for the development of the whole country, and also expressed good wishes to Al Mansoori.