Ten Things You Need To Know About The First UAE Man To Go Into Space
The UAE is sending its first man into space today, on board the Russian Soyuz MS 15 space craft, launching from Bakionur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Hazza Al Masouri, a 34 year-old former military pilot was chosen from Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid’s UAE Astronaut programme, that began in December 2017. The two finalists for the programme, Hazza and Sultan Al Neyadi, who is acting as a reserve, have undergone rigorous training. You can read all about what he can expect here.
In the meantime, here are 10 things you need to know about Hazza Al Mansouri
He is launching today
Take off is scheduled for exactly 5:57:43 p.m. UAE time, or 6.57:43 local time at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Khazakstan.
He was selected from over 4,000 people
When Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid, Vice President and Rule of Dubai began the search for the UAE’s first ever astronaut, there were 4022 entrants. After rounds of testing and interviews, two candidates emerged as the ones selected to represent the UAE in space.
He was a military pilot
Hazza Al Mansouri is a former F16 fighter pilot with a degree in aviation. On top of his flying experience, he has had to spend time training in a human centrifuge. It’s a huge rotating arm that is used to simulate the G-Force experienced when heading into space. Spinning at 96kph generates 3 x Earth’s gravity.
He’s a very quick learner
Clear, concise and accurate communication aboard the Russian spacecraft is essential, so both Hazza and and Sultan had to learn Russian very quickly. Learning at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Star City, Moscow, they’ve had just under a year to master an already complex language.
The crew have been in quarantine for two weeks
Have you seen the part in APOLLO 13 where one of the astronauts gets a cold and can’t head into space? That’s not going to happen this time. All the astronauts have been in a hermetically sealed quarantine for the last two weeks to keep them germ free and as healthy as possible for their journey.
Mansouri will be the 562nd person to go into space
Since Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin journeyed into space and completed a one orbit of Earth in 1961, there have been over 500 people who have left Earth behind. Hazza Al Masouri will be just the 562nd person to have made such an auspicious trip.
Specially packed halal dishes will be provided for him
It seems that the further away from the ground you get, the more your food suffers. See airplane food, followed by vacuum packed, zero gravity space rations. However, Hazza will still be able to enjoy the comforts of Emirati cuisine, with Space Food Laboratory, a Russian company, preparing dishes such as special halal chicken stew and vermicelli with an omlette. Everything is canned or liquefied to allow it to be eaten in zero gravity.
He’ll be conducting 16 experiments while in space
Hazza won’t be idle in space. Once he reaches the International Space station he’ll be working on a series of 16 experiments on the effects of microgravity, space travel on the human body and time perception in space.
The UAE flag and more is going with him
Along with his rations and specially designed space suit, Hazza will be bringing 10kg of ‘excess baggage’: important items that represent the history and culture of the UAE. These include the country’s flag and logos, seeds from the Al Ghaf tree and a photo of UAE Founding Father Sheikh Zayed with astronauts, taken in 1976.
He will be returning in 8 days
Hazza will be returning to earth on October 3 at exactly 4.48pm UAE time, landing after eight days orbiting the Earth. In that time he will see 16 sunrises per day or 128 in total.