Emirati astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi is soaring. Literally. Nearly a week after docking on the International Space Station (ISS), he posted his first selfies with Earth on Wednesday.
Wearing a blue T-shirt with the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre logo, AlNeyadi can be seen smiling as planet Earth glows blue and white below him.
“Salute from space to Earth,” he posted on Twitter. “I salute our homeland and its leaders. I salute all those who carried the late Sheikh Zayed’s ambition in their hearts and aim high. The dream has come true and now we dream bigger.”
The selfies were posted a day after his first official Earth-to-space conversation with none other than His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
Sheikh Mohammed also spoke of Sheikh Zayed’s dream during the conversation, saying the UAE’s space ambitions began with the late leader’s vision in the 1970s. “Our journey started more than 50 years ago from the desert without any capabilities, and today our flag has reached space and flies around Mars.”
‘Sultan of Space’ and his Crew-6 mates docked with the ISS on March 3 at 10.40am. He told Sheikh Mohammed that he is still coping with life in microgravity and that his schedule has been “very hectic” since arriving on the ISS.
AlNeyadi had answered questions from young Dubai students, too, as he took a break from his ISS duties.
Throughout the mission, Sultan will partner with various space agencies, including NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and the National Centre for Space Studies (CNES), to carry out 19 scientific studies across a broad spectrum of fields. These studies will cover topics such as cardiovascular and immune system health, back pain, technical demonstrations, epigenetics, fluid science, plant biology, material science, sleep analysis, and radiation.
In addition to conducting scientific research, Sultan will engage in 13 live calls and 10 ham radio interactions, as well as participate in community outreach programmes scheduled throughout his six-month stay.