First Emirati Astronaut Set to Fly to International Space Station

Hazza Al Mansouri, the first astronaut from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is set to fly to the International Space Station (ISS) on Wednesday, September 25 (today).

According to details, a veteran Russian cosmonaut, Oleg Skripochka and two astronauts – Jessica Meir from NASA and Hazza Al Mansouri from the UAE – are scheduled to launch today at 9:57 a.m. EDT to the International Space Station (ISS) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

“This mission is a great milestone for me personally and for the United Arab Emirates,” said Hazzaa in July while talking to the media.

The first man in space, Yuri Gagarin, is famous for his line “Poyekhali” which is Russian for “Let’s go!” and the first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong, said “Houston, we have lift-off.”

Hazza said as part of his culture, that his first line would be, “Tawakal na ala Allah,” which is Arabic for “We rely on the name of the Almighty Allah,” on which the crowd erupted in applause.

Hazzaa’s fascination with space began as a child in Abu Dhabi, “I started to look at the stars since childhood,” he recalled.

The Emirati astronaut said he would take a family photo to the ISS along with a UAE flag.

He will also be carrying a photograph of a meeting between Sheikh Zayed and the Apollo astronauts from which he got inspiration. “This is one of the pictures that inspired me and today I am living this dream,” he said.

Emirati food has also been prepared for his trip, including balaleet – a specialty of UAE made of sweetened vermicelli served with an omelette – that he plans to share with the other astronauts.

According to Hazzaa, the mission is a “huge responsibility” and he hopes to inspire the next generation of explorers by taking the UAE’s first trip to space.

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