The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) has officially announced that Sultan AlNeyadi, the Emirati astronaut, is set to return to the UAE on September 18th. The update was relayed to the public via X, previously known as Twitter.

After a significant six-month tenure aboard the International Space Station (ISS), Sultan AlNeyadi, along with his Crew-6 team, successfully landed back on Earth near Jacksonville, Florida on September 4th. The crew has since been in Houston, undergoing post-mission recovery processes.

There is palpable excitement throughout the nation as AlNeyadi’s homecoming nears. He notably completed the longest Arab space mission and marked his name as the first Arab astronaut to embark on a spacewalk. While the specific details of his homecoming ceremony are yet to be disclosed, it is understood that a special welcome awaits him.

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Looking back, the UAE’s inaugural astronaut, Hazza Al Mansoori, received a heartfelt reception in October 2019. It’s expected that AlNeyadi will be met with similar enthusiasm, complete with traditional Emirati ceremonies, upon his arrival at the Presidential Terminal of Abu Dhabi International Airport.

Recollections from AlMansoori’s return include the presence of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who warmly welcomed both AlMansoori and AlNeyadi. The Air Force’s aerobatic display team, Al Fursan, further enhanced the atmosphere by painting the sky in the UAE’s national colors. Both the public and prominent officials, surrounded by schoolchildren, were present to celebrate their space heroes.

Upon his return, AlNeyadi’s schedule is anticipated to be eventful. Engagements with the UAE community, particularly students, will take precedence. He will share insights from his space expedition, focusing on the critical experiments he conducted in microgravity. These studies offer essential knowledge concerning human adaptation to space conditions.

AlNeyadi has previously mentioned the challenges of readjusting to Earth’s gravitational force after his extended stay in space. He highlighted instances, like grappling with a simple water bottle, which accentuated the effects of being in space for an extended period. Nevertheless, his swift recovery has been attributed to the expertise of the recovery teams in Houston.

Finally, AlNeyadi’s mission represents a crucial chapter in the UAE’s ongoing space exploration saga. He has consistently emphasized that his journey complements the objectives of the UAE’s Astronaut Programme, initiated by Al Mansoori in 2019. With Nora Al Matrooshi and Mohammad Al Mulla slated to graduate as astronauts in early 2024, the UAE’s celestial ambitions continue to soar.

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