UAE astronaut Sultan Al-Neyadi has become the first Arab to walk in space during Expedition 69, which took off from the International Space Station (ISS) and completed its space mission.
The historic spacewalk lasted 7.01 hours in the vacuum of space on the starboard side of the ISS’s truss structure, accomplishing two main objectives.
One of the objectives of the extravehicular activity (EVA) carried out by Sultan al-Neyadi with NASA flight engineer Stephen Bowen was to work on a series of preparatory tasks to divert electrical cables, which was successfully completed.
The cable work is 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 an upcoming SpaceX Dragon cargo mission. . The next objective is to retrieve a critical Radio Frequency Group (RFG) unit.
This communication antenna or RFG is currently bolted to the station due to the difficulty of removing it. Before embarking on the spacewalk, both Sultan al-Neyadi and Bowen underwent a two-hour oxygen purge to flush nitrogen from their bodies.
Following this, Warren Hoburg and Frank Rubio assisted the astronauts in donning their spacesuits—a major operation. It took an extra hour for both Sultan al-Neyadi and Bowen to don their spacesuits and protective gear, which would gradually reduce the pressure to open the outer hatch.
Before the spacewalk, thorough checks were conducted to ensure the safety of the astronauts. During their high-altitude walk outside the ISS, Sultan al-Neyadi and Bowen had to face two major challenges: radiation and extreme temperatures.
The surrounding environment in space can reach temperatures as hot as 120°C in sunlight and as low as -150°C when the Sun is out of sight.
While the spacesuit was designed to handle all of this, careful management of the suit during the mission was also a task.
Hamad Obaid Al-Mansouri, Chairman of MBRSC, said: “UAE Mission 2 is a truly inspiring initiative that embodies the Emirati spirit of excellence and determination to achieve greatness in all our endeavours.”
“From launch to the longest Arab space mission on the ISS mission to the historic designation of the first Arab Ascension Front, now continuing the amazing feat of Sultan Al-Neyadi’s first Arab space mission. A new standard for excellence in space exploration.”
MBRSC Director General Salem Humaid Al-Marri said, “Sultan Al-Neyadi’s space mission has generated an unprecedented level of enthusiasm and interest among the public, underscoring the immense importance of this mission.”
“The addition of the spacewalk, while conducting ground-based science experiments on the Sultan ISS, shows another dimension of the UAE’s remarkable expertise in space exploration. This landmark achievement will play a key role in restoring the International Space Station to its full operational capabilities. The capability cements the UAE’s position as a leading contributor to the global space community.” said Mr Al-Mari.
Launched on March 2 with his Group-6 crew members from Cape Canaveral, Florida, Sultan Al-Neyadi will soon complete two months in space. In his second month on the space station, Sultan al-Neyadi conducted several experiments.
The UAE Astronaut Program is one of the programs managed by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center under the UAE National Space Program and funded by the Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority’s ICT Fund, which aims to support research and development in the ICT sector. Promotes the country’s integration in the UAE and the global arena.
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