Emirati astronauts, Hazza Al Mansouri and Sultan Al Neyadi began a training programme at NASA's Lyndon B. Johnson Space Centre, JSC, as part of the preparations for the first Emirati astronaut to travel to the International Space Station, ISS, in approximately 10 weeks from now, aboard the Russian Soyuz-MS 15.
The two-week programme includes training on various units and components of the US segment of the ISS, which includes the Japan Kibo laboratory and the Columbus Laboratory, to conduct scientific research in cooperation with NASA.
NASA also held a press conference for the mission's main crew, which is set to travel to the ISS on 25th September, 2019, and comprises flight leader, Cosmonaut Oleg Scripochka, and NASA Astronaut, Jessica Meir.
This is part of an agreement between the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, MBRSC, and NASA to conduct a series of training programmes for the two Emirati astronauts at the Lyndon B. JSC and to conduct scientific research suited to short-term missions to the ISS.
The training the astronauts are undergoing includes receiving an overview of the NASA equipment and devices onboard the space station, in addition to handling emergency situations, especially ammonia gas leakage and depressurisation.
Yousuf Hamad Al Shaibani, Director-General of the MBRSC, said, "The MBRSC is committed to building strategic partnerships with major international space agencies, as part of our efforts to support the UAE in preparing Emirati cadres to enrich scientific progress to serve humanity and make further achievements in the space industry, science and research."
Salem Al Marri, Assistant Director-General for the Science and Technology Sector, Head of the UAE Astronaut Programme, highlighted that these exercises are essential for enhancing the skills of Al Mansouri and Al Neyadi to enable them to use the equipment at the ISS, and identify several aspects of life aboard the station, such as preparing food. "By sending the first Arab astronaut to the ISS, the UAE contributes to enriching scientific experiments that study microgravity, including its impact on the human body," added Al Marri.
"This is a huge responsibility for us, and we are ready to do our best to make it a success, especially with the high-level training we are receiving, and the hard work we do with the crew," said Al Mansoori at NASA’s press conference. He will travel for an eight-day space mission to the ISS aboard a Soyuz-MS 15 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on 25th September, 2019, and return to Earth aboard a Soyuz-MS 12.