Latest astronaut from UAE getting used to space

The newest astronaut from the United Arab Emirates adjusts to space

This photo provided by NASA shows Emerati astronaut Sultan al-Neyadi during an interview on the International Space Station Tuesday, March 7, 2023. The first Arab astronaut assigned to a long space flight is adjusting five days after the rocket launch still attached to life off the planet to the International Space Station. Photo credit: NASA via AP

The second astronaut from the United Arab Emirates is still adjusting to life off the planet after rocketing up to the International Space Station last week.

“I’m still getting by. I’m still learning,” Sultan al-Neyadi said on Tuesday, but added that he hopes to improve in the coming days.

He is the second astronaut from the United Arab Emirates to go into space and the first from the Arab world to be assigned a long space flight – the others stayed for about a week. He will stay there until September.

Al-Neyadi assured Dubai’s ruler in a video call on Tuesday that he and the rest of his crew are in good health. But he joked that the little plush astronaut toy he picked up might be better at handling microgravity than he is.

“I am grateful to God that you reached the International Space Station and thank God for your safety,” said Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who also serves as the country’s prime minister and vice president, from the space center named after him.

SpaceX launched al-Neyadi, a Russian cosmonaut, and two NASA astronauts on their six-month mission last Thursday.

The UAE’s first astronaut, Hazzaa al-Mansoori, joined the brief video chat from Dubai on Tuesday. Al-Neyadi’s astronaut toy, nicknamed Suhail, Arabic for the brilliant star Canopus, also accompanied al-Mansoori on his 2019 space station mission.

“Hopefully people will follow in my brother Hazzaa’s footsteps and in my footsteps,” al-Neyadi said, with the flags of the UAE and its space center hanging behind him. “We hope so.”

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