Today will mark a historic moment for the UAE, as Emirati Sultan Al Neyadi prepares himself to become the first Arab astronaut to perform a spacewalk. As the UAE is expanding its horizons into space through its various exploration programs, today, rest assured, is a feather in its cap.
Dr. Al Neyadi was chosen by NASA for the spacewalk after undergoing a lengthy training that began back in 2018. As of this evening, he will be able to count himself in the elite group of astronauts who have had the chance to carry out the spacewalk previously. The UAE will proudly become the 10th country to execute a spacewalk out of the 260 spacewalks that have been conducted since 1998. Along with his NASA colleague Stephen Bowen, Sultan Al Neyadi will spend approximately seven hours outside the International Space Station, undertaking maintenance tasks and upgrades of the space station. Some of the tasks include retrieving and relocating foot restraints that astronauts can use during future spacewalks, preparing a part of the station for a future solar array installation, and retrieving a piece of communication hardware.
As one would expect, Al Neyadi milestone moment will be covered live when the mission kicks off at 5.15 pm GST on the NASA website. It’s safe to say that all eager eyes in the region and beyonf will be on Al Neyadi as he sets about completing his tasks for the day.
In lieu of the achievement, Salem Al Marri, director general of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center in Dubai, said, “I’m very excited for him and he’s very happy. It’s quite historic and shows how far our space program has gone.” He also continued on to share, “He’s been training since 2018, and training with NASA since 2020, so he’s proven his capabilities.”
Although Sultan Al Neyadi and Stephen Bowen will be in their EMU suits (weighing close to a whopping 127 kg), they will be weightless while performing their spacewalk. Each astronaut suit will be attached to a tether as they exit the airlock and climb outside the structure to begin the work. This will be another stellar achievement for Al Neyadi, who is embarking on the Arab world’s first long-duration space journey.