Emirati astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi has set off for the International Space Station (ISS) in what is a historic moment for the United Arab Emirates. Part of the Crew-6 mission, Al Neyadi will be leading the longest Arab space mission, a source of immense pride for the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) and the Emirates as a whole.
The country has been dedicated to growing its National Space Program with projects like the Emirates Mars Mission, the UAE astronaut program, and the development of various space satellites – in 2018 the MBRSC built KhalifaSat, the first satellite to be fully built by Emiratis. Al Neyadi’s journey into space is a testament to these efforts and the visionary leadership of the Emirates. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, crown prince of Dubai and chairman of The Executive Council, showed this support as he watched the historic launch with the team at MBRSC.
The UAE marks a new milestone in its inspirational journey to go beyond the skies, guided by its visionary leadership. As @HamdanMohammed leads the applause at the @MBRSpaceCentre, the UAE looks forward to new frontiers of space. pic.twitter.com/FXZfyMfMLB
— Dubai Media Office (@DXBMediaOffice) March 2, 2023
In a farewell tweet to his followers just before his flight into space Al Neyadi said, “The next time I address you, I will be aboard the International Space Station. I will be speaking to you carrying the flag of our nation on my arm and Zayed’s Ambition in my heart. Keep me in your prayers, and we will soon be in touch.”
Soon after the launch the astronaut once again addressed the world, starting off in Arabic with “assalamualaikum” and then “shukran jazeelan” before talking about how thrilled and excited he was to finally have this experience. “Thank you to everyone, my parents, family, leadership, and Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre. Thank you everyone who trained us and got us ready. Thanks, Nasa and Space X. Go, Dragon! Go, Falcon!”
On his journey on the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft, named Endeavour, Al Neyadi is not only joined by his fellow crew members but also Suhail, whom the astronaut introduced as “the fifth crew member”. A stuffed toy from the MBRSC, Suhail has been named after the Arabic name for the star Canopus and unlike Al Neyadi, this is not its first flight into space. Around three and a half years ago the mascot accompanied Emirati astronaut Maj Hazza Al Mansouri on his eight-day trip to the ISS.
As Endeavour continues its journey both Al Neyadi and Suhail remain symbols of the success that the UAE has achieved and continues to do so across all aspects. In this moment of great pride, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan tweeted, “I join the nation in congratulating Sultan Al Neyadi as he begins his pioneering mission aboard the International Space Station. His inspiring achievement is a source of great pride to the UAE and another milestone in the journey of our nation and the ambitions of our people.”