Photo Credit: NASA TV
Dubai – United Arab Emirates, after five years of rigorous training worldwide, UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi has accomplished a remarkable milestone by completing a spacewalk, known in technical terms as extravehicular activity (EVA). This achievement represents a significant leap forward for the UAE, marking the first time an Arab astronaut has participated in an EVA during a mission at the International Space Station (ISS).
Astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi and his American colleague, astronaut Stephen Bowen, the primary objective was to orchestrate the placement of cables and establish insulation on the mounting fixtures on the space station’s starboard truss. This endeavour is instrumental in readying the location for the future integration of the next pair of the International Space Station Roll Out Solar Arrays (iROSAs). The iROSA installation is part of a series of spacewalks to augment the ISS’s power channels. Four iROSAs have been installed, and two more will be mounted to the platforms prepared during this spacewalk. However, the astronauts encountered a challenge when they were unable to disengage an electronics box located on the truss. This box is associated with a degraded S-band communications antenna. Consequently, the task of antenna removal has been deferred to a future spacewalk. Nonetheless, this EVA is particularly noteworthy as it marks the 261st spacewalk contributing to the International Space Station assembly, maintenance, and upgrades.
Astronaut Al Neyadi was among the first two selected astronauts in 2018, alongside Hazza Al Mansouri, who became the first Emirati in space the following year. Astronaut Al Neyadi’s journey to the ISS, culminating in the spacewalk, results from a comprehensive, global training program.
His preparation took him to Russia, parts of Europe, and Canada, in addition to completing NASA’s rigorous basic training program in Houston, Texas. Al Neyadi also undertook mission-specific training for this particular trip to the ISS, ensuring he was fully prepared for the tasks. Mastering the Russian language was part of his preparation, as was spending hours daily in space simulators to accustom his body to the effects of microgravity. He trained to fly supersonic jets and completed intensive spacewalk training, leaving no stone unturned in his commitment to excel in this mission.
The UAE’s commitment to space exploration is manifest in the journey of astronaut Al Neyadi. His rigorous training, commitment, and eventual participation in a mission at the ISS are a testament to the UAE’s dedication to fostering scientific discovery and advancement. This landmark achievement is a source of immense pride for the UAE and serves as a beacon of inspiration for young Arabs interested in space exploration and scientific innovation. As the UAE continues to reach new heights in space exploration, this mission symbolically encapsulates the nation’s vision of pushing boundaries and inspiring future generations to aim for the stars.
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