The First Emirati Astronaut Enters the ISS, Makes History for UAE

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) becomes the 40th country in history to see one of its citizens sent to space.

History was made this week for UAE, when the first Emirati astronaut, Hazzaa Al Mansoori, was launched up to the International Space Station (ISS) alongside two other astronauts.

The NASA spacecraft, called Soyuz, was launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. The spacecraft took roughly 6 hours to reach the ISS after takeoff. 

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The first Emirati astronaut

Hazzaa Al Mansoori became the UAE's first-ever citizen to fly into space on Wednesday, September 25. The astronaut flies under a contract between Russia's space agency and the UAE's Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC).

This makes the UAE the 40th country in history to have a citizen sent up to space. Al Mansoori launched into space alongside cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos and astronaut Jessica Meir of NASA.

The three astronauts were launched up to the ISS, aboard Russia's Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft at 9:57 a.m. EDT (1457 GMT).

A unique, historic opportunity

"It is a unique responsibility and a unique opportunity to bring aboard the station the first astronaut from the United Arab Emirates. Not that we're flying him; he's going to work as a full-fledged crew member of our crew," said Skripochka at a press conference on Tuesday.

"But it does bring a certain level of attention to our crew. It is a historic event to say the least."

"It has been a very interesting dynamic, especially being part of this very historic mission with a first time for a country," said Meir. "It doesn't happen as often as it should these days, so it is really amazing and makes the experience even more interesting."

As Space points out, Skripochka and Meir will serve on the ISS for 6 months while Al Mansoori will spend 8 days on the space laboratory before returning to Earth on Soyuz MS-12 with Skvortsov and Hague, two astronauts that are finishing their stay.

The three astronauts are scheduled to touch down in Kazakhstan on October 3.

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