UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi is back on Earth after 6 months at International Space Station

Back to Earth — that is the current status of UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi, who has successfully finished his pioneering six-month stay at the International Space Station (ISS).

The capsule carrying Sultan Al Neyadi and his fellow astronauts splashed down in the Atlantic, off the Florida coast, on Monday morning, 8.17am UAE time. Photo courtesy: X/FETCsocial

Al Neyadi began his descent from the ISS yesterday and reached Earth this morning (8.17am UAE time) in a SpaceX Dragon capsule, along with three fellow astronauts. Their splashdown was in the Atlantic ocean, off the coast of Jacksonville, in Florida, United States.

During these six months, Al Neyadi carried out at least 200 experiments and became the first Emirati to do a spacewalk in April 2023. He also sent photos of the Himalayas as the ISS orbited Earth.

Before this, the UAE had sent Hazzaa Al Mansoori to the ISS in September 2019 for eight days, as the first Emirati in space.

Congratulating the astronaut on his safe return, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, wrote on X: “I extend my congratulations to the UAE President on yet another milestone in our ambitious space programme’s evolution. As we welcome Sultan Al Neyadi back to earth, I commend him and the entire MBRSC team on this historic mission.”

The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre is the home of the UAE’s space programme and the springboard for Emirati astronauts.

Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, daughter of the Ruler of Dubai, posted on X: “Today unveils a new chapter in the UAE’s journey of possibilities. We congratulate Sultan Al Neyadi, our space envoy, on his safe return to Earth, fulfilling a new national aspiration after the success of the longest Arab astronaut mission. We thank God for your safety. Your journey has proved that the impossible is possible and this is just the beginning.”

Before his departure from the ISS, Al Neyadi wrote a post on X: “Space, this is not a goodbye. I will see you later, whether on a new mission to the ISS or a farther destination. I thank my beloved country for turning our dreams into achievements and all of you for your trust and affection. Wish us a safe return. We’ll meet soon.”

One happy international family in space. Photo courtesy: X/Astro_Alneyadi

In one of the posts towards the end of his six-month space mission, Al Neyadi wrote that he had “gained a new family”, with whom he “shared expertise, traditions, and cultures…”