The UAE's first astronaut is set to launch his mission into space, and his journey's starting point has been captured by an Emirati-made satellite. Named KhalifaSat, the satellite was built at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre in Dubai and is considered an integral part of the UAE's space program. It took off into orbit from Japan last year and sent back a snap of the Baikonur Cosmodrome spaceport in Kazakhstan last week. The base is the area where Hazza Al Mansouri is currently in quarantine, getting ready for his history-making trip on Sept. 25.
Al Mansouri arrived at the Baikonur base last Tuesday alongside Sultan Al Neyadi, a doctor of information technology and former engineer for the UAE Armed Forces and the second Emirati astronaut to be selected. The latter is a member of the back-up team for the expedition. Both men have spent the past week conducting tests to ensure the readiness of the Sokul spacesuit that will be worn by Al Mansouri inside Soyuz MS-15 — the spacecraft which is set to carry him to the International Space Station (ISS).
The crews involved in the mission also conducted the first fit-check of the space vehicle to make sure everything was in place and reported their observations to the engineers responsible for its maintenance.
Al Mansouri's mission will take place over eight days
Al Mansouri, along with Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka and American astronaut Jessica Meir, will be launched to space aboard a Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft and will complete an eight-day stay on the ISS.
The 34-year-old, who's a former F-16 Block 60 fighter pilot, has spent much of this year in Russia "undergoing space training and ground survival techniques."
While in space, the Emirati astronaut will present a tour of the station in Arabic for viewers back on Earth and document the daily lives of astronauts at the station. In addition to that, he'll be hosting an Emirati food night on board the spacecraft and enjoying a specially crafted halal menu made up of traditional UAE meals throughout his mission.
The astronaut is also set to carry out 15 scientific experiments before returning to Earth on Oct. 3. Once he completes his mission, Al Mansouri will make history as the first-ever Emirati and Arab to fly to the ISS.
Ready for takeoff! The UAE chose its first astronauts last year
In 2018, Al Mansouri and Sultan Al Neyadi were revealed as the first Emiratis to be selected to fly to the ISS.
At the time, Dubai's Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum announced the two will become the country's first-ever nationals to go to space as part of the UAE Astronaut Program.
The duo was chosen from a pool of 4,022 contenders who applied for Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center's UAE Astronaut Program, which aimed to find the nation's first astronauts.