Dubai, UAE, 5 September 2019: Upon the successful completion of their final tests, a press conference was held by the main crew and the back-up crew for Hazzaa AlMansoori's first trip to the International Space Station (ISS). The main crew includes AlMansoori, Oleg Skripochka, and Jessica Meir, and the back-up crew is composed of Sultan AlNeyadi, Sergei Nikolaevich, and Thomas Henry. The press conference was held at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, in Star City, in Moscow, on Thursday 5 September, and was attended by officials from the space agencies involved in the mission and the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), as well as representatives from international media.
Prior to the press conference, the main crew and the back-up crew met with a committee composed of the Russian Roscosmos, the European Space Agency (ESA), NASA, and the MBRSC, to speak about the astronauts, their biographies, the training they took, and details of the mission.
Salem AlMarri, Assistant Director General for Science and Technology Sector and Head of UAE Astronaut Programme, delivered a keynote to the Committee, thanking Roscosmos, and the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, for their role in preparing AlMansoori and AlNeyadi, for the mission to the ISS. He commended Hazzaa and Sultan's level of preparation for this historic mission.
During the press conference, Hazzaa AlMansoori and Sultan AlNeyadi received questions from the media attending the press conference. “Twenty days left for the historic launch of the UAE and the Arab world's trip to the ISS, and I have a lot on my mind today. I'd like to thank our wise leadership for this great opportunity, as well as my parents who supported me to reach where I am today,” said AlMansoori.
“Today, I am dressed in my military uniform, to thank the UAE Armed Forces and Air Force, which I am proud to belong to. The UAE Armed Forces allowed me to excel and reach this position today; Thank you everyone,” added AlMansoori
“I carry with me a photo of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, with a delegation of astronauts who were speaking to him about space and its importance for the future of nations. This is truly a huge responsibility,” continued AlMansoori.
AlMansoori stressed that being the first Arab country to travel to the ISS, it is a great responsibility and we have a lot to learn along with a wonderful team. We will carry out several scientific experiments, in cooperation with Roscosmos, ESA, NASA, and JAXA, and will learn about microgravity, to be ready for future missions.
“The UAE Astronaut Programme is a sustainable programme, especially since the mission's logo ‘Zayed's Ambition' has (Mission 1) written below it, to show that other missions will follow,” said AlNeyadi answering a question about future missions for UAE.
“As per His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, some countries are progressing and are saving their place among developed countries. Me and my colleague, Hazzaa AlMansoori, feel responsible to return from this mission with an experience that would inspire Arab and Emirati youth to take part in space exploration, as it is one of the world's key fields today,” continued AlNeyadi.
“Over the past period, we gained a lot of experience on scientific missions, which we believe will heavily contribute to the development of the UAE's space sector and the future of human spaceflights,” added AlNeyadi.
His Excellency Yousuf Hamad AlShaibani, Director General of MBRSC, said, “We are delighted to be seeing the first outcomes of the UAE Astronaut Programme; This is the start of a sustainable programme for space exploration”.
“The UAE's first mission to the ISS is the result of extensive efforts by dedicated individuals and organisations in the UAE, and also the result of important strategic partnerships with major global space agencies such as NASA, ESA and of course Roscosmos, who spared no effort in preparing our astronauts and providing them with all the support and training they need,” added AlShaibani.
“We pledge our wise leadership to continue efforts to raise the UAE flag in space and contribute to supporting the UAE's space sector. We are committed to participating in scientific exploration and human space flights, and making significant achievements in the space, science and research industry,” noted AlShaibani.
The mission is part of the UAE Astronaut Programme, which is overseen by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC). The UAE Astronaut Programme is first integrated programme in the Arab region to prepare national cadres to participate in human space flights and carry out various scientific missions, in addition to becoming a part of the research carried out by the global scientific community to devise solutions to many challenges facing humanity.
AlMansoori will conduct 16 scientific experiments in cooperation with international space agencies, including Roscosmos, NASA, ESA, and JAXA. Six of these experiments will be done aboard the ISS to study Brain DTI, Osteology, motor control, time perception in microgravity, Fluidics (fluid dynamics in space), and DNAm-Age.
The UAE Astronaut Programme is funded by the ICT fund of the TRA. Launched in 2007, this fund, which is the first of its kind in the Arab world, aims towards supporting research and development within the ICT sector in the UAE, helping it to grow into a nationally significant industry with a leading place in the world.