News UAE Space Projects Vertical Markets

Sultan Al Neyadi becomes first Arab astronaut to complete spacewalk on ISS

Hazzaa AlMansoori, the Expedition 69 increment lead, joined Al Neyadi from the NASA ground station in Houston.

The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) achieved a new milestone when astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi ventured out of the International Space Station (ISS) and completed his spacewalk. With the conclusion of the mission task, the UAE commemorates Al Neyadi as the first Arab to undertake a spacewalk during Expedition 69, currently underway on the ISS.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, said: “After three years of intensive training, today we see Sultan Al Neyadi on his first spacewalk, carrying out several tasks outside the International Space Station. Al Neyadi is the first ever Emirati, first Arab and first Muslim astronaut to perform a spacewalk.”

He added: “It is a fact that many stars have Arabic names. Arabs are capable and innovative. Our focus on science and investment in youth will shape our future.”

The historic first Arab spacewalk lasted 7.01 hours in the vacuum of space on the starboard side of the International Space Station’s truss structure, accomplishing two key objectives. One of the objectives of the Extravehicular Activity (EVA), undertaken by Al Neyadi along with NASA Flight Engineer Stephen Bowen, was to work on a series of preparatory tasks which involved routing power cables, which was successfully concluded. These cable works were completed as a precursor to the installation of the Space Station’s fourth roll-out solar array, known as the International Space Station Roll-Out Solar Array (iROSA), which is scheduled to be delivered on the upcoming SpaceX Dragon cargo mission. The next objective was to retrieve a crucial Radio Frequency Group (RFG) unit. This communications antenna, or RFG will stay bolted on the station for now due to the difficulty of removing it.

Prior to embarking on their spacewalk, Al Neyadi and Bowen underwent a two-hour oxygen purge to eliminate nitrogen from their bodies. Following this, Warren Hoburg and Frank Rubio assisted the astronauts in donning their spacesuits – a major operation in itself. It took both AlNeyadi and Bowen an additional hour to put on their spacesuits and safety gear before entering the airlock to gradually reduce the pressure to a safe level for opening the exterior hatch.

Al Neyadi’s progress during the spacewalk was observed by Hazzaa AlMansoori, the Expedition 69 increment lead, from the NASA ground station in Houston.

Hamad Obaid AlMansoori, Chairman, MBRSC, added: “The UAE Mission 2 is a truly inspiring endeavour that embodies the spirit of Emirati excellence and determination to achieve greatness in all our pursuits. From its inception as the longest Arab space mission to the historic appointment of the first Arab increment lead on an ISS expedition, and now continuing with the groundbreaking achievement of the first Arab spacewalk by Sultan Al Neyadi, this mission has set a new standard for excellence in space exploration. Under the patronage of the wise leadership, this remarkable milestone not only represents the UAE’s unwavering commitment to consolidating its position as a dominant force in space, science, and technology but also serves as a powerful motivator for future generations to strive for knowledge and innovation with boundless enthusiasm and dedication.”

Salem Humaid AlMarri, Director General, MBRSC, stated: “Sultan Al Neyadi’s spacewalk has generated an unprecedented level of excitement and interest within the public, underscoring the immense significance of this mission. We are grateful to our visionary leadership for their unwavering support and guidance, which has enabled us to realise this ambitious goal and set the stage for even greater achievements in the future. While Sultan is conducting ground-breaking scientific experiments on the ISS, the addition of the spacewalk showcases yet another dimension of the UAE’s remarkable expertise in space exploration. This milestone achievement will play a critical role in restoring the International Space Station to its full operational capability, cementing the UAE’s position as a leading contributor to the global space community. ”

Adnan AlRais, Mission Manager, UAE Astronaut Programme, MBRSC, commented: “The historic achievement of the first-ever Arab spacewalk by Sultan Al Neyadi, as part of the longest Arab space mission in history, represents a remarkable milestone for the UAE. From the outset of the UAE Astronaut Programme journey, our astronauts have always set their sights on achieving the extraordinary, and with unparalleled skill and determination, they have risen to the challenge in a way that has captivated the world’s attention. As we celebrate this momentous achievement, we look eagerly to the future with great anticipation, as a new cadre of UAE professionals prepares for future missions that will enable them to further showcase our nation’s growing capabilities in the field of space exploration.”

Al Neyadi will soon be completing two months in space after launching from Cape Canaveral in Florida with his Crew-6 team members on 2 March.