UAE astronaut Sultan al-Neyadi selected for six-month ISS mission

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United Arab Emirates astronaut Sultan al-Neyadi has been selected for a mission to spend six months aboard the International Space Station (ISS), the official WAM news agency reported on Monday.

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He will take part in the NASA mission which plans to set off in the spring of 2023.

Officials announced in April that they had purchased a place on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket flight, without identifying who would be taking part in the mission, The Associated Press reported.

The mission will place the UAE on the list of only 11 countries that have sent their astronauts on long-term missions in space.

Al-Neyadi is due to set a new record for the longest time an Arab astronaut has spent aboard the station.

In 2019, fellow emirati Hazza al-Mansouri became the first person from the UAE in space and the first Arab to board the ISS, where he spent eight days conducting experiments and filming the first tour of the ISS in Arabic.

Both men are members of Dubai’s Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center.

“I am proud to congratulate Sultan Al Neyadi on being selected as the 1st Arab astronaut to spend 6 months on the International Space Station as part of a mission to commence in 2023,” UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed said in a tweet.

“This historic milestone builds on the strong foundations of the UAE’s burgeoning space program,” he added.

Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid said in a WAM statement: “God willing, our youth raised their heads to the sky, where the place and position of the United Arab Emirates is due.”

Astronauts including al-Mansouri remembered the 37th anniversary of the first Arab spaceflight in June, when Saudi Arabia’s Prince Sultan bin Salman spoke to Al Arabiya English about his pioneering trip.

The Prince affirmed the Kingdom’s ambitions to send astronauts out of the earth’s atmosphere again, and discussed the country’s space program.

In recent years, the UAE has taken the lead in its space ambitions, training several astronauts and developing the Hope probe, which is currently researching the atmosphere of Mars.

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