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Emirati astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi blasts off on sky-lighting SpaceX flight to space station

Al Neyadi and his three crew mates will be at the International Space Station for six months

Emirati astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi blasts off on sky-lighting SpaceX flight to space station
[Source photo: NASA | Anvita Gupta/Fast Company Middle East]

Today, UAE’s astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi scripted a new chapter in the country’s space history as he rocketed into orbit to kick off a six-month stay at the International Space Station (ISS). This is his first trip to space.

Lighting up the sky for miles, the Emirati astronaut and his three crewmates – NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen and Warren Hoburg and Russian cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev — blasted off on NASA’s SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida as part of the Crew-6 mission.

The first Crew-6 launch attempt on Monday was canceled due to a technical issue with the Falcon 9 rocket, which SpaceX and Nasa said they resolved. 

“Human spaceflight is an inherently risky endeavor, and, as always, we will fly when we are ready,” said NASA administrator Bill Nelson after the flight delay.

The ground issue was with a chemical known as triethylaluminum triethyl-boron (TEA-TEB), which is used to start the rocket’s Merlin engines.

A clogged filter prevented the fluid from properly filling the necessary compartments. 

According to NASA, as many as 222 science experiments and technology demonstrations will be carried out by Crew-6 members as part of the expedition. These include Al Neyadi conducting about 20 experiments.

According to Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC), some of the main fields of experiments that Al Neyadi will be part of include: cardiovascular system, epigenetics, plant biology, radiation, back pain, immune system, materials science, sleep analysis, fluid science, and technical demonstration.

MBRSC and the Emirates Literature Foundation have partnered to organize student interaction sessions with Al Neyadi every Thursday during his six-month mission.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, has delivered a message of support to Al Neyadi after his milestone mission to the ISS was delayed.

Sheikh Hamdan said although the launch was postponed, the UAE’s “ambitions remain high.”

Ahead of spaceflight, UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi’s father, who is in Florida to watch the launch, has said he is proud of his son. In a video by the Dubai Media Office, he said: “On this momentous occasion, I am proud of Sultan. Not just because he is my son but because he is the son of the UAE. I wish him success in this mission, and he truly represents all Arabs.”

Al Neyadi worked as a communications engineer in the UAE Armed Forces before he went through the UAE astronaut program at the MBRSC.

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