Sultan Al Neyadi, the UAE astronaut all set to fly to the International Space Station (ISS) will be spending the holy month of Ramadan this year in space.
Al Neyadi is part of the SpaceX Crew-6 mission and will be representing the United Arab Emirates. Scheduled to liftoff on February 26, 2023, he will be spending the next six months in space and will have the role of a Flight Engineer while on deck.
As the month of Ramadan is expected to fall in the month of March and April this year, Neyadi will be celebrating the holy month and also the following Eid-Al-Fitr while in space.
Sultan Al Neyadi Wishes Arab Astronauts to Become Ambassadors of Arab Interests to Seek Knowledge
There was a press conference held last weekend where Sultan Al Neyadi and three other astronauts that are part of the mission addressed the media and answered their questions.
When Al Neyadi was asked about how he plans to represent the Emirati culture while in space, he gave a hint about a special announcement that will soon be released. He also mentioned that there is a lot of stuff being planned during his space mission.
Talking about his preparation for the month of Ramadan while in space, Al Neyadi said that he would love to share Emirati food while on board. He also mentioned that he “loves” dates and will be carrying dates while on his space mission, which he wishes to share with everybody onboard, especially during the month of Ramadan.
Al Neyadi also explained a bit about the history of Arabs going to space. He pointed out that Prince Sultan bin Salman from Saudi Arabia was the first Arab to be in space.
For the unaware, Prince Sultan bin Salman Al Saud is part of the Saudi royal family and the current chairman of the board of directors at the Saudi Space Commission.
He became the first Arab man and Saudi national in space when he made the journey as a Payload Specialist aboard the STS-51-G, which was NASA’s 18th flight part of the American Space Shuttle Program.
Syrian national Muhammed Faris became the first Syrian and second Arab to travel to space. Faris flew as a Research Cosmonaut aboard the Soyuz TM-3 as part of the Interkosmos program back in 1987.
The first Emirati man to fly into space is Hazzaa Al Mansoori, who is also the youngest F-16 fighter pilot in the United Arab Emirates.
Al Mansoori spent eight days in space on the ISS, and he made the journey onboard the Soyuz MS-15 that took off back on September 25, 2019, and landed back on October 3, 2019.
On his journey, Al Neyadi will also get to work with the first Saudi female astronaut and another Saudi male astronaut during his six-month voyage.
Saudi Arabia announced their plans to send Saudi female astronaut Rayyanah Barnawi and male astronaut Al Al Qarni to the International Space Station this year.
They will be making it to the ISS onboard the AX-2 mission from the United States and will focus on contributing to the advancements in the fields of health, sustainability, and technology.
Neyadi also had to say along the lines that the Middle East always has the thirst to learn more and he shared the optimism that the astronaut representing the Arab world, including himself, will also function as ambassadors during these missions.
He also shared the hope of coming back from the mission with new knowledge and sharing whatever the team learns with everyone else.
Being a keen enthusiast of Jiu-Jitsu, Neyadi also plans to continue his training while onboard the International Space Station. He stated that he is a practitioner of Jiu-Jitsu and has a kimono that he is carrying to wear onboard the ISS and “probably do few moves”.
The United Arab Emirates is definitely at the forefront within the region when it comes to space programs. So far, the UAE has successfully launched the “Emirates Mars Mission” and the “Emirates Lunar Mission”.
The Emirates Mars Mission, which was earlier scheduled to launch in 2024 was later scheduled earlier and had its liftoff back in July 2020. It reached the orbit of Mars in February of 2021.
The Emirates Lunar Mission was launched in December 2022 and carries the first lunar rover from an Arab country called “Rashid”, named after the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the first Vice President and second Prime Minister of the UAE and the former Ruler of Dubai.
Upcoming Emirates space programs include the “Emirati interplanetary mission 2028”, which was announced back in October 2021 and showcases plans by the UAE Space Agency to set up a mission that will include the exploration of other planets within our solar system including Venus and Mars. The mission is currently scheduled to launch in the year 2028.
Along with the addition of new space programs, the UAE also has the “UAE Space Law”, which is a federal law that puts on regulations based on the country’s National Space Policy to encourage the investments and participation of private companies in space-related activities.