Wednesday, February 27, 2019

UAE’s First Astronaut May Fly to ISS September 25

Sultan Al Neyadi and Hazza al Mansouri in training at the Russian Yuri Gagarin Center in preparation for a historic trip to the International Space Station.

The preliminary date set for the first space flight by a United Arab Emirates astronaut has been set for September 25, the chief of the Gagarin Space Training Center, Pavel Vlasov, has told TASS.

"At this point, yes (it’s September 25). This agreement is to be confirmed by the Russian side later today in the form of an authorized program for flights to the ISS this year," Vlasov said when asked if it was true the UAE’s first astronaut would be put in space on September 25.

Two UAE astronauts are being trained for the mission: Hazza al Mansouri and Sultan Al Neyadi. Only one of the two will go the ISS, though. The other will stand by. The UAE’s astronaut will stay on the ISS for one week and get back to Earth with the crew of the manned spacecraft Soyuz.

The agreement of intent by which Russia will eventually provide assistance to the UAE to create its own team of astronauts was concluded at an international astronautic congress in Adelaide, Australia, in September 2017.

The astronaut program would make the UAE one of only a handful of states in the Middle East to have sent a person into space, as it looks to make good on a pledge to become a global leader in space exploration. The first Arab in outer space was Saudi Arabia's Sultan bin Salman Al-Saud, who flew on a US shuttle mission in 1985.

Credit: TASS

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