DUBAI 6 August 2019: The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), has announced that Hazzaa Al Mansoori, the UAE’s first astronaut to travel to the International Space Station (ISS) on 25th September, will host a traditional Emirati food night at the station.
Al Mansoori will be dressed in the traditional Emirati clothes, and will offer his fellow astronauts three Emirati foods – ‘madrooba’, ‘saloona’, and ‘balaleet’. The event will be the first of its kind, and for the first time they would taste the Arabian and Gulf inspired cuisine in a non-gravitational environment.
Al Mansoori, the UAE’s main astronaut travelling to the ISS, and Sultan Al Neyadi, the UAE’s back-up astronaut, spent one to two hours daily for a week to taste about 200 different types of halal food and evaluate each. The Russian Space Food Laboratory company is responsible for preparing these meals for space.
“The astronaut’s meals are prepared according to specific requirements to provide a balanced nutrition while ensuring that they are easy to carry, store, and use in a non-gravitational environment. These foods are processed at high temperatures to be stored for long periods. During the training period, we evaluated about 200 different types of halal food on a scale of one to nine from most to least favourite. We enjoyed our experience in tasting Emirati foods prepared for space, but the taste of the food prepared for space varies compared to the food we eat on earth,” said Al Mansoori.
“I’m honoured to be the first astronaut to host an Emirati night on board the ISS to promote the Emirati culture, which I am proud to belong to, and share some delicious Emirati food like madrooba, saloona, and balaleet, which I’m sure they will like,” added Al Mansoori.
Al Neyadi highlighted that the menu on the ISS includes appetisers such as soups and cheese, and the main course includes fish, chicken or beef, in addition to desserts and drinks such as tea and juices. He noted that their training at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Star City in Russia, included tasting 20 to 30 types of space food daily for an entire week. Meals prepared for space are usually placed in the form of paste in tubes, which should be directly consumed and cannot be heated, or in the form of canned food containing food in a solid or dried form, where water can be added to it and it can be heated in special equipment for five to seven minutes.
Many of the inventions used in daily life were developed primarily to be used in space, including baby formula. Nasa was aiming to make a food formula that would work for long distances to space, which led to the discovery of Formolide, a substance used in the manufacture of artificial milk, and a good nutritional supplement. Frozen food was also the result of a search for a way to feed astronauts on their long journeys to space.
MBRSC oversees the UAE Astronaut Programme, which is part of the UAE National Space Programme, and aims to prepare the first Emirati astronaut corps to participate in global space exploration missions. The programme contributes to achieving the national strategy to develop young Emirati cadres and prepare future generations, according to the highest international standards, and achieve their aspirations to participate in scientific explorations, as well as the aspirations of the UAE in this field.
The UAE Astronaut Programme, funded by the ICT fund of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, TRA. Launched in 2007, this fund, which is the first of its kind in the Arab world, aims towards supporting research and development within the ICT sector in the UAE, helping it to grow into a nationally significant industry with a leading place in the world.