Emirati astronaut waves goodbye to his kids, on bus to launch site


History-making Emirati astronaut Hazzaa Al Mansoori is on his way to the launch site ahead of becoming the first Arab to travel to the International Space Station.

As the photo shows, Mansoori waved goodbye to his children from the bus which took him to the Soyuz rocket that will blast into space just before 6pm local time from Baikonur in Kazakhstan.

Just hours before take-off, he tweeted: “A few hours before launch and I’m filled with this indescribable feeling of glory and awe. Today I carry dreams & ambition of my country to a whole new dimension. May Allah grant me success in this mission.”

Mansoori, 35, is set to blast into space accompanied by Russia’s Oleg Skripochka and NASA astronaut Jessica Meir.

He will spend eight days on the ISS and will be the first Emirati astronaut and the first Arab on the orbiting laboratory.

“It is really an honour and we are looking forward to make this mission successful and to come back with a lot of knowledge,” the pilot told a pre-flight news conference.

He said the trip was a milestone for his country and the Arab world.

On Tuesday, Emirates Post, in cooperation with Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), said it has issued a series of commemorative stamps to celebrate the UAE Astronaut Programme, which will take Mansoori to the ISS.

Comprising six designs, the special-edition stamps feature images of UAE astronauts Hazza Al Mansoori and Sultan Al Neyadi, the Soyuz MS spacecraft, the International Space Station, as well as the logo for the September 25 mission Zayed’s Ambition, which features an outline of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan’s image.

First launched in 1966, the Soyuz rocket and launch system was developed by Korolev Rocket and Space Corporation, Energia, and built by the Research and Production Development Center of Progress Rocket Space Centre in Samara, Russia.

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