DUBAI, 19 October 2021 – Sultan Al Neyadi is one of the first two astronauts from the UAE, along with Hazza Al Mansouri. Al Neyadi has completed his first year of training at NASA’s Johnson Space Centre – flying supersonic jets that travel faster than the speed of sound.
The Expo News Service (ENS) team caught up with Al Neyadi at Dubai Exhibition Centre (DEC) during Expo 2020 Dubai’s Space Week (17-23 October), in association with Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) and the UAE Space Agency – one of 10 Theme Weeks that will take place throughout Expo, as part of the Programme for People and Planet.
What drew you to work in the space sector? Did your father’s work in the UAE Air Force inspire you?
“Since childhood, I have dreamed of exploring space, and I was interested in my father’s work as a pilot in the UAE Air Force. I did not succeed in being a pilot, so I studied engineering and did not give up my dream of exploring space. In 2017, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai announced the opening of registration for astronauts. As the registration door was open to all disciplines, including engineers, I submitted, accepted and graded in the exams, and then I was selected, along with my colleague Al Mansouri.”
Do you think that the UAE will succeed with more great achievements in future space exploration? “The space exploration sector in the UAE is supported by the wise leadership. In the UAE, we succeeded in launching a 100 percent Emirati-made satellite, as well as sending the Hope probe earlier this year. There are only a few countries that have succeeded in sending space stations to another planet, including the UAE Astronaut Programme, which I am very proud to be a part of. There are currently four astronauts ready to go through training to the International Space Stations (ISS) or to future missions, such as the moon and even Mars. All of the aforementioned inspire the youth in the UAE to think about science and the development of the space exploration sector.”
What are you working on?
“I have finished my first year of training at NASA, which included many activities – training to fly on jets, spacewalk missions, training on the ISS – which qualify us to be operators on the ISS for months. I am looking forward to playing an operator role or becoming an astronaut on exploration flights.”
What advice would you give to young people who want to work in the space sector?
“I advise young people to follow their passion, focus on achieving their goals, and take care of their physical health, as this is essential for anyone who wants to join the space sector, plus a lot of reading and preparing to seize opportunities.”
In your opinion, what will Expo 2020 Dubai achieve for the UAE and humanity?
“Expo 2020 Dubai is our window to the world, and the world is looking at the UAE throughout the six-month event. We are happy that this global event has dedicated an entire week to space – we are working hard to share our passion for, and experiences of, space science.”