Emirati astronauts Hazzaa Al Mansoori and Sultan Al Neyadi have undergone a three-day winter survival training organised by the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Zvezdini in the Russian capital Moscow.
The training, which aims to prepare the astronauts to survive harsh winter conditions, is part of the ongoing preparations to send the first Emirati astronaut to the International Space Station, ISS.
The winter survival training provides astronauts with several skills that allow them to survive for at least three days in extreme weather conditions using equipment on board the space capsule, in case the landing capsule blows off course causing them to land in a hostile environment.
Astronauts learn how to get out of a damaged capsule, how to build two types of shelters, first-aid skills, coping with stress, utilising available resources, and communicating with search and rescue teams through visual signals like flares or wireless communication.
This enhances their confidence and allows them to complete the training programme, which is mandatory for all astronauts.
Yousuf Hamad Al Shaibani, Director General of Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, MBRSC, said, "We are proud of the stage that the astronauts have reached in their training since travelling to Russia. This is not the first time they have completed advanced training. They will undergo more intensive training to survive harsh conditions and we are confident about their performance throughout the preparations for the ISS mission."
The intensive training featured both practical and theoretical aspects.
The theoretical training consisted of two parts. The first focused on the language and words used to convey injury cases and seek help. Hazzaa Al Mansoori and Sultan Al Neyadi chose ‘Zayed’ as the name code that was communicated to the rescue team every hour.
The second part of the theoretical training focused on the instructions for survival, learning about the first-aid kit and how to use it.
The two astronauts underwent medical and psychological tests before and after the training, to ensure their readiness.
Commenting on the training, Hazzaa AlMansoori said, "Our greatest achievement in this training was that it enhanced our confidence in our ability to adapt to harsh weather conditions. The training was an accurate simulation of the forced landing experience, which allowed us to go through the entire experience with full commitment and learn a lot from it."
"We were kept busy throughout the three-day training. Every hour, we had to send a signal to the rescue team to tell them about our location and our health status. We also took night shifts in rotation to make sure the fire was kept on all the time, in addition to other tasks we did and the steps we learned to stay warm in a sub-zero environment (-10 Degrees Celsius)," said Sultan Al Neyadi.
One of the two astronauts will become the first Arab astronaut to travel to ISS later this year. Both astronauts will continue their training for other future scientific missions in space.
MBRSC runs and manages the UAE Astronaut Programme, part of the UAE National Space Programme, to prepare the first Emirati astronaut corps to participate in global space exploration missions.
The Programme contributes to achieving the national strategy to develop young Emirati cadres and prepare future generations, according to the highest international standards, and achieve their aspirations to participate in scientific explorations, as well as the aspirations of the UAE in this field. The two Emirati astronauts were selected after a series of medical, psychological and advanced tests and interviews.
The UAE Astronaut Programme is funded by the ICT fund of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, TRA. Launched in 2007, the fund, the first of its kind in the Arab world, aims to support research and development within the ICT sector in the UAE to support its growth into a nationally significant and world-leading industry.