Sultan Al Neyadi, the Emirati astronaut known as the “Sultan of Space,” is set to embark on a historic mission as part of the SpaceX Crew-6 on February 26th, becoming the first Arab astronaut to spend six months aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre released a series of photos on Twitter, showcasing Al Neyadi in his astronaut gear, including a close-up of his face behind his helmet, as well as images of him with the UAE flag on his sleeve and smiling in a spacecraft-like environment.
Al Neyadi, a mission specialist and primary crew member, has undergone extensive training to prepare for the long-duration mission, which will also see him blast off with three other astronauts, Stephen Bowen, Warren Hoburg, and Andrey Fedyaev. Before the liftoff, Al Neyadi will go into quarantine, which is a standard measure for all astronauts heading to space.
At a recent press conference, Al Neyadi spoke about how he has been preparing himself physically, mentally, and emotionally for his six-month journey. He plans to bring family photos, toys from his children, university T-shirts, and small Tintin rockets as reminders of life on Earth. The astronaut mentioned that he will miss his mother’s cooking the most during his time in space.
One unique aspect of Al Neyadi’s mission is that he will be spending the entire holy month of Ramadan and Eid in orbit, where he will experience 16 sunrises and sunsets daily. When asked how he will manage fasting during this time, he said that while fasting is not mandatory for travellers, he would love to observe it if the occasion permits and share some UAE meals with his crew members.
During the six-month period, a total of 250 science experiments will be carried out on the ISS, with Al Neyadi slated to conduct 20 of them. This mission marks a significant milestone for the UAE and its space program, as well as for Arab space exploration.
The countdown to the launch of the SpaceX Crew-6 mission has officially begun, and the world eagerly awaits the outcome of Al Neyadi’s historic journey.