UAE’s al-Neyadi to be first ever Arab astronaut to perform spacewalk

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United Arab Emirates' (UAE) astronaut Sultan al-Neyadi will become the first Arab astronaut to perform a spacewalk on April 28, state news agency WAM reported on Thursday.

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Al-Neyadi, who is currently at the International Space Station (ISS) as part of the longest Arab space mission to date, will use the space walk – when an astronaut leaves a space ship or space station – to help with maintenance and updates to the ISS, according to WAM.

The spacewalk – which al-Neyadi will do with NASA Flight Engineer Stephen Bowen - is set to last about six and a half hours.

Astronauts selected for ISS spacewalks “undergo a rigorous selection process” and need to be able to demonstrate “exceptional proficiency” in various fields, such as engineering, robotics, and life support systems, WAM said.

Al-Neyadi trained for more than 55 hours at NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL) at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas in preparation for spacewalks.

Al-Neyadi blasted into space on March 2 from the United States’ NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida as part of a six-month mission which will carry out experiments ranging from human cell growth in space to controlling combustible materials in microgravity.

Al-Neyadi, 41, is only the second person from his country to fly to space and the first to launch from US soil as part of a long-duration space station team.

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