Hazzaa al-Mansoori from the United Arab Emirates became the first Emirati astronaut in space when the Soyuz MS-15 lifted off into space on 25th September 2019.
Al-Mansoori took off to the International Space Station (ISS) with cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos and Jessica Meir of NASA from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. He will spend eight days in space and will return on 3rd October aboard a Soyuz MS-12 along with Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin and NASA astronaut Nick Hague.
With this, the UAE gained the distinction of becoming the 40th nation in the world to send one of its citizens to space.
The 35-year-old is a former military pilot, who was selected from a pool of over 4,000 applicants for the space program. He graduated with a degree in aviation from the Khalifa bin Zayed Air College in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Subsequently, he served in the armed forces of the United Arab Emirates.
“I am proud to be the first astronaut in orbit on the ISS from the United Arab Emirates and from an Arab country,” Al-Mansoori told reporters before his launch. “It is really an honor and I am looking forward to making this mission successful and to come back with a lot of knowledge and a lot of experience that I’ll share with everyone.”
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai congratulated Al-Mansoori on his achievement.
Hazza Al Mansouri’s entry to space sends a message to Arab youth that we can march forward, that we can keep pace with the rest of the world. Our next station is Mars through the Hope Probe, competently designed by our Emirati youth. pic.twitter.com/UfjzYPpEG2
— HH Sheikh Mohammed (@HHShkMohd) September 25, 2019
Until now, only two other people from Arab countries have been to space and the missions were conducted in the 1980s. They are Prince Sultan Bin Salman Abdulaziz Al Saud from Saudi Arabia and Muhammed Faris from Syria.
Al-Mansoori’s flight is being hailed as a milestone in the fledgeling space program of the UAE, and rightly so!