Emirati astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi connected with more than 1000 students at GEMS Jumeirah College in Dubai via live radio transmission from the International Space Station orbiting Earth.
Al Neyadi took the time to answer students’ questions, speaking on a variety of topics, ranging from what inspired him to pursue a career as an astronaut and how he prepared for his current mission, to what it felt like to enter space and what work he will be carrying out during his time on the Space Station.
Asked about how his preparations compared to the actual experience of entering space, Al Neyadi said: “We train in mock-ups that simulate the inside of the [rocket] capsule. And we also get training to experience G-load as well. But being in space is totally different; there’s a continuous feeling of weightlessness. I wish everyone could try this, but unfortunately, as far as I know, the closest you can get to a rocket launch is going on a really fast rollercoaster!”
Robert Kesterton, Acting Principal, Jumeirah College, added: “As a proud UAE school, we are so fortunate to be able to provide our students with an opportunity to speak with UAE trailblazer Sultan Al Neyadi. I am sure his inspiration will serve to fuel the aspirations of Jumeirah College students, and we are honoured that he agreed to take questions from our students while on such a historic mission.”
The opportunity to speak and interact with Al Neyadi came about when Christopher Greenfield, a science teacher at Jumeriah College, contacted Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS), an organisation that specialises in connecting school students with astronauts on board the Space Station.
Greenfield, who began his career teaching at NASA’s International Space School in Houston, Texas and who has already been involved in seven previous ARISS events over the past 20 years, stated: “Our students are fascinated with space exploration and having the opportunity to speak with astronauts inspires them to ask truly thought-provoking questions. I applied to ARISS in March 2022, knowing that this would be an amazing event that would add a unique dimension to our students’ regular studies.”
Yusra Khan, a Year 7 student at Jumeirah College, commented: “I have always been interested in space, and it was exciting to know that if I sent in a question, it would be read out and answered in space. So, I submitted a few questions and one of mine got chosen. I asked Sultan Al Neyadi about some of the scariest things that have happened to him so far. This was a curiosity of mine, as I don’t know what happens in space!”