UAE Astronaut makes history! With the UAE flag and the logo ‘Impossible is Possible’ emblazoned on his spacesuit sleeve, Emirati astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi has taken the big stride for Arab world’s space exploration by accomplishing the first spacewalk for an Arab astronaut outside the International Space Station (ISS) on Friday.
AlNeyadi and veteran Nasa astronaut Stephen Bowen started their over six-hour spacewalk at 5.11pm (UAE time). Nasa flight engineers Frank Rubio and Woody Hoburg, who were also aboard the ISS, assisted them in suiting up. Hoburg said: “Sultan, congratulations, you are creating history today.”
UAE astronaut Hazzaa AlMansoori, the first Emirati who went to space in 2019, meanwhile, served as increment lead of Expedition 69. He monitored the mission from Nasa Johnson Space Centre in Houston. The Emirati team at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) were also busy following all the action from ISS.
Things moved smoothly for the two astronauts as they opened the hatch and made the eventual egress. First to come out of ISS’s Joint Quest Airlock was Bowen, who served as the lead spacewalker on his eight spacewalk. He wore a spacesuit with red stripes to distinguish him from AlNeyadi, who made the first step out of the ISS at 5.39pm (UAE time).
After securing their body tethers, the two astronauts moved to relocate the Articulating Portable Foot Restraint (APFR), a platform used by astronauts while conducting the spacewalk and also fixed the cables.
The Nasa team in Houston can be heard during the live broadcast praising AlNeyadi for his good work. “That was impressive, Sultan. You have a surgeon’s hands,” the ground controller told the Emirati astronaut.
There was constant communication between Nasa ground controller and the two astronauts. Every 90 minutes, AlNeyadi and Bowen were also asked to check their gloves and helmet absorption pad (HAP) to make sure that there was no water inside their helmets or tears in the gloves.