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Sultan AlNeyadi, an Emirati astronaut, becomes the first Arab person to walk in space

History was created on 27th April 2023, when UAE astronaut, Sultan AlNeyadi completed a spacewalk outside the International Space Station. 


Before the spacewalk, a comprehensive set of checks was carried out to ensure the safety of the astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi and NASA Flight Engineer Stephen Bowen. Before beginning their spacewalk, they underwent a two-hour process to remove nitrogen from their bodies by purging oxygen. Then, with the assistance of Warren Hoburg and Frank Rubio, they donned their spacesuits, which was a major operation in itself. It took them an additional hour to put on their spacesuits and safety gear before they entered the airlock. The pressure in the airlock was gradually reduced to a safe level before they opened the exterior hatch. During their high-altitude walk outside the International Space Station, they had to face two major challenges- radiation and extreme temperatures. The space environment can become extremely hot, reaching temperatures of up to 120 degrees Celsius in sunlight, and extremely cold, dropping as low as -150 degrees Celsius when the sun is out of sight.


Despite taking all necessary precautions, the threat of space debris remained a pressing concern during the spacewalk. Space debris frequently comes perilously close to the orbital outpost, posing a significant risk to the crew.


During the historic first Arab spacewalk, which lasted 7.01 hours in the vacuum of space, AlNeyadi and NASA Flight Engineer Stephen Bowen achieved two important objectives- 

One of these objectives was to complete a series of preparatory tasks, which involved routing power cables, on the starboard side of the International Space Station's truss structure. This task was successfully accomplished. AlNeyadi can be heard during the live transmission being praised for his great performance by the NASA team in Houston. "Wow, Sultan, that was impressive." The ground controller said to the Emirati astronaut, "You have a surgeon's hands"

The second objective of the Arab spacewalk was to retrieve a crucial Radio Frequency Group (RFG) unit, which is a communications antenna. However, it was decided that the RFG unit would remain bolted to the station for now due to the difficulty involved in removing it.


Salem Humaid AlMarri, Director General, The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre, said, "Sultan AlNeyadi’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."


On March 2, 2023, Al Neyadi was part of the NASA SpaceX Crew-6 mission that took him to the International Space Station. During his time at the ISS, the Emirati astronaut also celebrated Eid al-Fitr this year. He sent his wishes to everyone from space by sharing a video message on his social media account on Friday.


"Impossible is Possible" appeared written on AlNayedi's spacesuit sleeve as he waved the UAE flag.

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