Ex-fighter Pilot to Become First UAE Citizen in Space This Week
Hazzaa Al Mansoori, a former fighter pilot for the United Arab Emirates, will become the country’s first person in space this week when he’s launched to the International Space Station as part of an eight-day mission. Mansoori, 35, is scheduled for liftoff on Wednesday from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan together with American astronaut Jessica Meir and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka. While in space, Mansoori will be tasked with several scientific experiments. “I’m looking forward to coming back with knowledge and experience and to sharing it with everyone,” he said. “By living in the International Space Station… it will give us more knowledge and more understanding of how we can go beyond this. To go to the Moon and to Mars eventually.” Last April, the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center in Dubai announced that Mansoori would be the country’s prime astronaut for the flight, with Sultan Al Neyadi the backup astronaut. The two were chosen from among some 4,000 Emiratis who applied to go into space after UA Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum tweeted an invitation for young people to join the country’s space program.