First Emirati astronaut Hazza returns to Earth

By Eudore R. Chand

KARAGANDA, Kazakhstan 4 October 2019: Emirati astronaut Hazza Al Mansoori has returned to Earth following his eight-day mission on board the International Space Station, ISS.

Al Mansoori, along with astronauts Nick Hague and Aleksey Ovchinin, touched down safely in the Soyuz MS-12 descent module in Kazakhstan on Thursday.

The hatch closing of the Soyuz MS-12 took place at 08:20 UAE time.

The spacecraft undocked from the ISS, on 3rd October 2019, at 11:37 UAE time, and landed in the southeast of Dzhezkazgan in Karaganda Region, Kazakhstan at 14:59, said Wam.

Al Mansoori was received by Salem Al Marri, head of the UAE Astronaut Programme, as well as Saeed Karmostaji, the Astronauts office manager at MBRSC, and a specialised international medical team. The astronauts were then taken to a health camp.

Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori, Chairman of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, MBRSC, Yousuf Hamad Al Shaibani, Director-General of MBRSC and team members from MBRSC, followed the landing procedure of Hazza and his crew mates from the Roscosmos Mission Control Centre, MCC, in Moscow.

Cosmonaut Ovchinin and astronaut Al Mansoori were then transferred to Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre, GCTC, in Star City, Moscow, where Dr. Hanan Al Suwaidi, the flight surgeon for the mission, did a medical check on Hazza.

A historic mission

During his stay aboard the ISS, Al Mansoori received a call from His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, while His Highness was visiting the MBRSC. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid congratulated Al Mansoori for his achievement, and conveyed the sincere wishes of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

Al Mansoori thanked Their Highnesses for their support and motivation, and stressed that the UAE’s leadership represent great examples of leaders who support their people, strive for great achievements, and provide youth in their country with opportunities in all fields.

Al Mansoori expressed his pride in being the first Emirati and first Arab to communicate from the ISS to earth in Arabic, as well as the first to carry the UAE’s flag into space. The UAE astronaut also said that he hopes the experiments he participated in would contribute to serving human beings.

Scientific missions

Al Mansoori conducted 16 scientific experiments in cooperation with international space agencies, including the European Space Agency, ESA, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, JAXA, the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos, and NASA. Six of these experiments were conducted in microgravity to study the reaction of vital indicators of the human body aboard the ISS, Brain DTI, Osteology, motor control, time perception in microgravity, Fluidics (fluid dynamics in space), and DNAm-Age. Al Mansoori was the first astronaut from the Arab region to participate in such research.

The scientific mission included experiments involving schools in the UAE as part of MBRSC’s Science in Space initiative. The first phase of the initiative saw the participation of nearly 15 schools from the UAE, in the presence of Al Mansoori. In the second phase, the experiments were conducted in microgravity aboard the ISS during Hazzaa’s mission.

Live sessions

Live sessions were organised through video calls, in partnership with global space agencies, or radio HAM, in partnership with the Emirates Amateur Radio Society. The sessions were attended by school students from all over the UAE. Students were given the opportunity to ask Al Mansoori about life aboard the ISS.

Arabic tour

In an unprecedented achievement, Al Mansoori recorded the first-ever Arabic video tour, where he explained the components of the station and the equipment on board, in addition to a short brief about the daily life of astronauts on board the station.

Al Mansoori also recorded 15-minute-films to document life aboard the ISS and his activities there.

Introducing Emirati culture

Furthermore, Al Mansoori hosted fellow astronauts on the station and introduced them to Emirati traditions and values. He also offered them three dishes: madrooba, saloona, and balaleet, which were prepared by the Space Food Laboratory Company. The Company specialises in the production of astronaut food, according to specific requirements to provide balanced nutrition, and ensure they are easily carried, stored, and used in zero gravity.

Reading children’s stories

Al Mansoori also read two children’s stories, called ‘Amal’ and ‘Khalifa’.

Taking photos of planet Earth

Al Mansoori sent photos and videos of planet Earth and the UAE, to the ground team at MBRSC. The images showed different parts of the Arab world including North Africa, Egypt and KSA, specifically Mecca city.

‘Send to Space’ Drawings from Space

Al Mansoori showed ten selected drawings from the Send to Space initiative that was launched earlier by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre.

The ground station in Dubai While on board the station, Al Mansoori communicated twice a day with the ground station at MBRSC, to inform them of his daily schedule and tasks on board.

He also communicated daily with Dr. Hanan Al Suwaidi, the flight surgeon for the mission, who followed his medical status throughout his time in space, and will be present upon his return to conduct a few check-ups on him.

UAE Astronaut Programme

The mission is part of the UAE Astronaut Programme, which is overseen by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre. The UAE Astronaut Programme is the first integrated programme in the Arab region to prepare national cadres to participate in human space flights and carry out various scientific missions, in addition to becoming a part of the research carried out by the global scientific community to devise solutions to many challenges facing humanity.

The UAE Astronaut Programme is 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.

Dubai Gazette