Hazza Al Mansouri “proud” but “a little jealous” of Sultan Al Neyadi’s SpaceX mission

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Hazza Al Mansouri said he was “proud” but “a bit jealous” of fellow Emirati astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi, who is preparing for a six-month mission to the International Space Station next spring.

The Emirati astronaut, who spent eight days aboard the space station in 2019, made his remarks during an event at the Museum of the Future on Wednesday.

On his mission three years ago, he left Earth’s atmosphere on a Soyuz capsule, an outdated and cramped spacecraft that remains a reliable means of transport.

He joked that he was mildly envious of Dr Al Neyadi, his backup astronaut on the UAE’s first space mission, and his upcoming trip on Elon Musk’s SpaceX Crew Capsule.

“After two years of training at NASA, we are ready,” Maj Al Mansouri said.

“We can fly long-duration missions aboard the International Space Station and I can’t wait to see it. [Dr Al Neyadi] floating and experiencing microgravity.

“I would say I’m jealous because of the vehicle he’s going to be flying with – a SpaceX Crew Dragon currently launching from Florida. It is a futuristic vehicle, indeed.

Dr. Al Neyadi has been given the Arab world‘s first long-duration space mission, during which he will spend six months on the space station.

He, along with three NASA and Russian colleagues, will head to the station on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The SpaceX capsule is more spacious than the Soyuz, with enough space for seven crew members, compared to three seats on the Russian spacecraft. It also has a sleeker design and features touchscreens.

The Dragon successfully completed its first crewed flight to the station in 2019 after being launched atop a Falcon 9 rocket.

This has brought manned spaceflight launches back to American soil once again, after relying on the Russians for more than a decade.

Since then, SpaceX has launched five crewed flights for NASA, with the sixth scheduled for next spring.

While Dr Al Neyadi will take a more sophisticated trip to space, Maj Al Mansouri was the first Arab astronaut to board the ISS.

He said he would return to space even if it was in a smaller spacecraft than the Soyuz.

Major Al Mansouri and Dr Al Neyadi were the first two Emiratis to be selected for a mission through the United Arab Emirates Astronaut Corps.

The two refer to each other as “brothers”, having spent more than three years training together in many parts of the world.

Maj Al Mansouri said it was an exciting time for space exploration and encouraged young people to pursue their dreams even if they seemed far-fetched.

Updated: October 19, 2022, 3:17 p.m.

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