Muscat: One of two astronauts from the UAE will be the first Arabs to go to space on September 25, 2019, according to the government of Dubai.
Sultan Al Neyadi and Hazzaa Al Mansouri are the two candidates who have been shortlisted for the historic mission, and they are currently undergoing training and evaluation ahead of the final selection process.
A statement by the government of Dubai read, “25 September 2019 will be the launch date of the first Emirati astronaut’s trip to the International Space Station (ISS).”
Sultan Al Neyadi, said, "When His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid invited Emiratis to apply to become the first astronaut, I was encouraged to join and I am now proud to be one of the chosen, from over 4,200 applicants."
Hazzaa al Mansouri, the second candidate, said "It was a historic moment when I got call telling me I was selected by the UAE Astronaut Program. I remembered when Sheikh Zayed met the US astronauts. I imagined that he wished to see Emiratis as astronauts, and now the sons of Zayed are making his wishes come true."
These comments came during the first press conference for the mission organised by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, where the date of the mission was announced, as well as the goals of these missions. H.E Yousuf Hamad Al Shaibani, Director General of the The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre, said, that one of the astronauts will fly to ISS on Wednesday, 25 September 2019 for an eight-day Russian space mission to ISS aboard a Soyuz-MS 15 spacecraft and will travel back aboard a Soyuz-MS 12. The second astronaut will continue training for future missions.
According to Al Shaibani, “The UAE Astronaut Program aims to encourage our youth to achieve their hopes and dreams.”
A statement by the government of Dubai read, “Salem Al Marri, Assistant Director General for Scientific and Technical Affairs and Head of the UAE Astronaut Programme at MBRSC, noted that the date of the flight was postponed from April to September 2019 following a launch accident of the Soyuz-MS 10 spacecraft in October.
"The astronauts’ safety is at the top of our list of priorities, so the date was postponed to 25 September. We are pleased that the mission to ISS will take place this year, despite the obstacles faced by our partners at the Russian space agency Roscosmos,” said Al Marri.
Al Marri highlighted that this will be the first time that an astronaut will present an introductory tour in Arabic at ISS, and that Al Mansoori and Al Neyadi were selected from a total 4,022 candidates who applied to the UAE Astronaut Programme after a series of advanced medical and psychological tests as well as personal interviews conducted according to the highest international standards.