Emirati astronaut Hazza Al Mansouri is the first person from the UAE in space, and spent eight days on the International Space Station. He spoke to the Expo News Service during Expo’s Space Week.
What are your memories of heading into space?
“The feeling of launching into space is indescribable. After training for several years, then sitting at the top of the rocket and listening to the countdown to launch… but I wouldn’t have arrived where I am today without the great support of my family, friends and teachers. And when you look at Earth from space, watching it spin in front of you, there are no borders between countries – it’s a reminder that as human beings, we must work with each other to preserve this planet for future generations.”
How important is it for you to represent the UAE in such a prominent way?
“My view of life changed after this mission: I saw Earth from a different perspective that few people get to see. I felt the value of Earth and its life-giving properties, such as oxygen and water. We really must preserve this.”
Are you impressed by how ambitious the UAE has been in terms of its space programme?
“There are no limits to the ambition of the UAE, especially in the field of space, from rehabilitating astronauts to launching satellites and reaching Mars, with more ambitious plans to come. And it will all lead to progress here on Earth, with research, and in terms of developing equipment and other matters related to this sector. These developments will help us to overcome the challenges facing us on our planet, such as water scarcity.”
What was it like on the space station?
“We implemented many scientific experiments during the time we spent on the space station, including studying various diseases, and their impact on the human body in the absence of gravity. Our aim is to help save lives.”
What advice would you give to young people who want to work in the space sector?
“Always have a goal, whether it’s to work in the space sector or other fields, and to strive to achieve it. Determination, persistence and knowledge are the tools you need, and don’t be afraid to ask the specialists and experts working in those fields to find out more.”
What’s next for you?
“I’m working with my colleagues, Sultan Al Neyadi, Noura Al Matrooshi and Mohammed Al Mulla, on various missions, and I’m working with the UAE Astronaut Programme, which among other things hopes to inspire future generations to believe that nothing is impossible.”
What will Expo 2020 Dubai achieve for the UAE and humanity?
“Expo 2020 Dubai is a big deal for the UAE, and through it we are sharing with the world the very best of our country, including heritage, knowledge, ambition and goals.”