Second UAE astronaut heads to ISS

Sultan Saif AlNeyadi, one of the four Emirati astronauts, is due to fly to the International Space Station (ISS) early this year.

Sultan Saif AlNeyadi

Sultan Saif AlNeyadi: Granted the NASA astronaut’s pin. Picture: NASA/Elizabeth Weissinger.

AlNeyadi acted as back-up to Hazza Al Mansouri when he conducted his eight-day mission to the ISS in September/October 2019.

AlNeyadi studied in Britain at the University of Brighton, where he received a BSc (Hons) in electronics and communications engineering in 2004.

After going back to the UAE, he studied at Zayed Military College for a year and then worked in the UAE armed forces as a communications engineer.

In 2008, he went to Australia and received a master’s degree in information and network security from Griffith University, where he returned in 2011 to complete a PhD in data leakage prevention technology.

Forty-one-year-old AlNeyadi successfully completed his first year of training at NASA’s Johnson Space Centre in 2021, becoming officially certified to work as an operator on board the ISS.

He trained in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL), passed evaluations, which included using the extravehicular mobility unit (EMU), maintenance of the ISS, the incapacitated crew rescue (ICR), and completed theoretical and practical training sessions on the T-38 jet.

He was granted the NASA astronaut’s pin after completing around 20 months of general training.

In 2021, Mohammad AlMulla and Nora AlMatrooshi, the first female Arab astronaut, were selected from 4,305 applicants for the UAE astronaut programme.

The two astronauts joined the ‘2021 NASA astronaut candidate class’ as part of a joint strategic agreement between the UAE and the US, to train at the Johnson Space Centre.

AlMulla spent more than a decade as a helicopter pilot and teacher with Dubai’s police force before applying to join the astronaut corps. He has a bachelor’s degree in law and economics and an executive master of public administration from the Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government.

AlMatrooshi is a mechanical engineer, with a bachelor of science degree from the United Arab Emirates University. She also studied in 2014 at the Vaasa University of Applied Sciences (VAMK) in Finland, and studied Korean at Hanyang University in Seoul, South Korea.

Since 2016, she has worked as a piping engineer at the UAE’s National Petroleum Construction Company.

Steve Nichols

Steve Nichols

Steve (BSc Hons, FIIC) is a journalist and communicator with more than 35 years' experience.