Hazzaa Al Mansouri, the first Emirati astronaut to travel into space aboard the Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft, and Sultan Al Neyadi, the UAE space missions backup astronaut, visited Emirates International School Jumeirah this week.
The Emirati astronauts were welcomed with the assembly attended by 600 students in the school’s theatre and live-streamed on the schools social media platforms.
The astronauts’ visit was aimed at inspiring and encouraging students to pursue careers particularly related to both offbeat and STEM fields, with Al Manousri’s background as an aviation major and military pilot serving as inspiration.
Reminiscing on their exceptional space-related feats in September-October 2019, Al Mansouri and Al Neyadi shared the complete journey of their travel into space with the students. Al Mansouri and Al Neyadi were selected from approximately 4,000 applicants to the UAE Astronaut Programme after a series of advanced medical and psychological tests. The programme aims to develop scientific cadres and prepare future generations of astronauts to fulfil Sheikh Zayed’s vision of making the UAE a major player in space research and exploration.
As part of his space trip, Al Mansouri spent eight days aboard the International Space Station, carrying out scientific experiments and promoting the UAE’s image to the world.
Recounting his experience to the EIS-J students, Al Mansouri said: It was definitely not easy. I had to learn Russian and go through multiple training programmes to make the trip into space. For example, we endured harsh Winter Survival Training, which teaches astronauts how to survive the harsh Russian winter in the wild, in case we are forced to make emergency landings on our way back to earth.
Commenting on the visit, Amna Al Habtoor, Director of Schools – EIS, said: “As part of developing our students’ life skills and outlook, we invited the UAE’s first astronauts to share their knowledge and experience. This will help further our youngsters’ capabilities and give them an idea of what they can aspire to and achieve if they put their minds to it.”