For months, the UAE have watched how its first pair of astronauts were trained, tested, equipped, and selected for a major expedition to space set on September 25.
And finally, the day came – the first Emirati astronaut, Hazzaa Al-Mansouri, was blasted off to space from the launch pad of the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
[BREAKING] First Emirati Astronaut Launched into Space
Al-Mansouri’s mission was not just a personal first, but a collective milestone achieved by the whole UAE community and the Arab world, as shared in a report by Gulf News.
Al-Mansouri is actually part of the three-member crew of Expedition 61, which was composed of fellow astronauts Jessica Meir from the USA and commander Oleg Skripochka of Russia.
The team was lifted off to space by the Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft, which was raised to the vertical position on the launch site days before the actual liftoff. It is the same historic facility from which Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin departed in 1961 to become the first human in space.
The 35-year-old Emirati astronaut along with his team, will stay aboard the space laboratory for eight days and are scheduled to return on October 3.
Hours before their take-off at 5:57 pm UAE time, Al-Mansouri bid a temporary farewell to his family as he, along with Skripochka and Meir, headed for the spacesuit donning. A heart-warming scenario caught the crowd’s attention when his proud kids reached for him as they wave goodbye to each other.
The first-ever Emirati astronaut to be launched to space shared his excitement with his friends, family, and followers on social media as he tweeted, “A few hours before launch and I’m filled with this indescribable feeling of glory and awe. Today I carry the dreams and ambition of my country to a whole new dimension. May Allah grant me success in this mission. Your brother, Hazzaa Al Mansouri.”
Back in April, the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC) announced Al-Mansouri to be the UAE’s prime astronaut and Sultan Al Neyadi as the backup astronaut for Expedition 61.
With much excitement, the whole UAE has looked forward to their astronauts’ journey to this day.
And in commemoration of this momentous event, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai tweeted, “Hazza AlMansouri’s entry to space sends a message to Arab youth that we can march forward, that we can keep pace with the rest of the world. Our next station is Mars through the Hope Probe, competently designed by our Emirati youth.”
Meanwhile, for his part, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, shared “I proudly watched as Hazza Al-Mansouri lifted off into space. This event strengthens our confidence in our youth who will take our nation to new heights and reinforce our ambitions for the future. We pray for Hazza’s success and his safe return home.”
Congratulations, Hazza Al-Mansouri! The whole UAE nation and the rest of the Arab world share in the pride of your success as the first Emirati astronaut. We hope and pray for your safe journey and return!
[BREAKING NEWS] Here’s a video of the Soyuz Spacecraft carrying Hazza Al Mansouri and their team as it successfully docks the ISS:
Soyuz spacecraft carrying UAE astronaut Hazza Al-Mansoori docks with ISS. pic.twitter.com/sspCwo9P2m
— Dubai Media Office (@DXBMediaOffice) September 25, 2019