UAE’s historic space mission: Sultan Al Neyadi lifts off to space
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) made history again, as the SpaceX Crew-6 mission blasted into space with Emirati astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi on board for the first six-month mission to the International Space Station (ISS) on Thursday.
The longest Arab space mission in history was lifted off at 9:34 am (UAE time) on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, United States.
A live broadcast over social media platforms by NASA showed the spacecraft, which is equivalent to a height of 25 floors, as it rose from the launch tower, while its nine Merlin engines roared, releasing clouds of smoke and a red fireball that lit up the sky before dawn.
Shortly after, Al Neyadi sent a message from space on the live feed, saying, “Thanks to my parents, my family, thanks to our leadership…thank you for everyone who trained us and got us ready for this mission.”
“The launch was incredible. And, lastly, thanks to Nasa and SpaceX. Go Dragon and go SpaceX,” Al Neyadi added.
Al Neyadi carried a stuffed toy named Suhail as an indicator of zero gravity. It can be seen floating in the weightless cabin.
Emirati and a Russian astronaut joined two NASA astronauts on a 6-month scientific mission covering various experiments such as growing human cells in space and controlling combustible materials in microgravity.
The crew of 4 is scheduled to arrive at the International Space Station (ISS) which orbits at an altitude of approximately 420 kilometres from Earth, about 25 hours after launch, early Friday morning.
Crew 6 team will be welcomed by seven astronauts aboard the station, which is the length of a soccer field and represents the largest man-made object in space.
Before the launch, Al Neyadi tweeted, “The next time I address you, I will be aboard the International Space Station. I will be speaking to you carrying the flag of our nation on my arm and Zayed’s ambition in my heart. Keep me in your prayers, and we will soon be in touch.”
On Monday, February 27, the first attempt to send the crew into space was cancelled less than three minutes before take-off, when launch teams discovered a problem with the flow of operating fluid for the main thrust engines of the rocket.
NASA said the problem was resolved by replacing the clogged filter and purging the system.
On Wednesday, NASA announced that the mission is ready for launch, with a 95 per cent probability that favorable weather conditions will prevail, while “SpaceX” stated on “Twitter” that “all systems appear ready for launch,” but the teams monitor the weather along the path of the Dragon’s ascent corridor.