Hazza Al Mansouri: How a childhood star gazer became UAE’s first astronaut

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Hazza Al Mansouri was speaking during the ‘Future Talks’ series on Wednesday
Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Hazza AlMansoori, the UAE’s first astronaut, and Susan Kilrain, American aerospace engineer and former NASA astronaut, shared their experiences as space explorers in front of a rapt audience of mainly of youngsters, during the ‘Future Talks’ series at Dubai’s Museum of the Future on Wednesday.

AlMansoori began his inspirational speech recalling how the UAE first aspired to reach the stars and his personal journey going to space. He said: “Before talking about the future, we must first go back in time.”

For all of humanity

His speech did not only focus on his preparations and tasks, he also drove home the point of his scientific mission, which he said was done in the benefit of humanity.

He also noted his personal experience at ISS, “where people come from different countries and speak of different languages but when in space they speak of only one language – which is science.”

Susan Kilrain, American aerospace engineer and former NASA astronaut, in Dubai
Former US astronaut Susan Kilrain also shared her experiences during the event
Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

From desert to space

Before ending his almost half-hour long narration, AlMansoori again recalled that the UAE’s space journey began with just a dream but less than 50 years later, became a reality.

He also shared his conversation with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, while he was aboard the ISS. Sheikh Mohammed told him: “From desert to space, we have reached the stars. You [AlMansoori] are the first [Emirati to go to space] but the young generation will follow your footsteps.”

AlMansoori noted there are now four active members of the UAE astronauts corps and AlNeyadi will embark in February next year on a six-month mission to the ISS, making it the first long-duration flight of an astronaut from an Arab nation. That would make the UAE the 11th country in the world to send astronauts on a long-term mission to space.