Baikonur, Kazakhstan, 12 September 2019: Emirati astronauts Hazzaa AlMansoori and Sultan AlNeyadi raised the UAE flag during the flag-raising ceremony that was held for the countries participating in the mission – UAE, Russia, and USA. Oleg Skripochka and Jessica Meir, from the main crew, and Sergei Nikolaevich and Thomas Henry, from the back-up crew, also participated in the ceremony. This is part of the pre-launch preparations for the mission to the International Space Station (ISS) on Wednesday, September 25, and as per the tradition of astronauts prior to launch, on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
The main crew and the back-up crew also visited the Baikonur Cosmodrome Museum, which includes space equipment and miniature models of rockets that have launched to space. They also signed the wall of Sergei Korolev at the museum. Korolev was the lead Soviet rocket engineer, in the 1940s and 1950s.
AlMansoori and AlNeyadi arrived in Baikonur on September 10. On September 11, they conducted several tests to ensure the readiness of the Sokol space suit, which they would wear inside the Soyuz spacecraft, during the launch trip to the ISS and the return trip from the ISS back to Earth.
Furthermore, the main crew and the back-up crew conducted the first fit-check of the Soyuz MS-15 to ensure that the devices, equipment, and payload, were in place, and to record any observations for the engineers responsible for the spacecraft.
The mission is part of the UAE Astronaut Programme, which is overseen by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC). The UAE Astronaut Programme is the first integrated programme in the Arab region to prepare national cadres to participate in human space flights and carry out various scientific missions, in addition to becoming a part of the research carried out by the global scientific community to devise solutions to many challenges facing humanity.
The UAE Astronaut Programme is funded by the ICT fund of the TRA. Launched in 2007, this fund, which is the first of its kind in the Arab world, aims towards supporting research and development within the ICT sector in the UAE, helping it to grow into a nationally significant industry with a leading place in the world.
The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre, founded in 2006, is home to the UAE National Space Programme. The Centre builds and operates earth observation satellites, offering imaging and data analysis services to clients around the world. The Centre launched DubaiSat-1, DubaiSat-2, and recently launched KhalifaSat on 29 October 2018 from Tanegashima Space Center in Japan. KhalifaSat was developed 100% in the UAE by a team of highly qualified Emirati engineers. The Centre is responsible for the development of the Emirates Mars Mission and the Mars Hope Probe, a mission to reach Mars orbit by 2021 and gather key science data about Mars’ atmosphere, as well as the UAE Astronaut Programme and the development of the Mars 2117 vision to build a human colony on Mars.
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Salama Al Falasi
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