On Friday, April 28th, Emirati astronaut Sultan Alneyadi made history by becoming the first Arab astronaut to undertake a spacewalk. Alneyadi, who was dubbed the “Sultan of Space” by his alma mater, had already made history earlier this year by becoming the first Arab astronaut to embark on a six-month space mission aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. His spacewalk was hailed as a “milestone” by the United Arab Emirates, which is quickly making its mark in the world of space exploration.
The First Arab Spacewalk
Alneyadi’s historic spacewalk lasted for around six hours and thirty minutes. Alongside NASA’s Stephen Bowen, Alneyadi worked to change the Radio Frequency Group unit and prepare for the installation of solar panels. The two astronauts also routed power cables to prepare for future power system upgrades outside the International Space Station (ISS). The Emirati astronaut was wearing a space suit that bore the Emirati flag, adding to the symbolism of the historic event.
Read More: SpaceX launches NASA Crew-6 mission
UAE’s Growing Presence
Despite being a new entrant in the field of space exploration, the UAE is rapidly gaining recognition for its remarkable achievements. In a historic feat, the country launched its first unmanned spacecraft named “Hope” to Mars in 2021, marking the Arab world’s inaugural interplanetary mission. With a primary objective of studying the Martian atmosphere and climate, the spacecraft is successfully transmitting crucial data back to Earth. Furthermore, the UAE’s endeavours to enhance its space capabilities included sending a rover to the Moon in the previous year.
The UAE’s efforts in space exploration have not always gone smoothly, however. Earlier this week, the UAE-developed Rashid Moon rover was lost when Japanese start-up ispace’s Hakuto-R lunar lander apparently crashed on the Moon’s surface. Despite this setback, Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, quickly directed the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) to begin work on a second rover, dubbed Rashid 2. This demonstrates the UAE’s commitment to developing its space capabilities and continuing to make progress in this field.
Importance of Space Exploration for the Arab World
Alneyadi’s historic spacewalk is an important moment not only for the UAE but for the entire Arab world. The fact that an Arab astronaut has now undertaken a spacewalk is a symbol of the region’s growing presence and importance in the field of space exploration. It is also a reminder of the potential benefits that space exploration can bring to the region. Space exploration can help to stimulate scientific research and innovation, which in turn can lead to economic development and job creation. It can also inspire future generations of scientists and engineers and help to foster international cooperation and collaboration. For the Arab world, space exploration can also be a source of national pride and a symbol of the region’s potential. As the UAE continues to make progress in this field, it is likely that other Arab countries will also seek to develop their own space capabilities. This could lead to increased cooperation and collaboration between countries in the region and beyond.
Alneyadi’s historic spacewalk is a significant moment for the UAE and the Arab world as a whole. It demonstrates the UAE’s commitment to developing its space capabilities and making progress in this field. It also highlights the potential benefits that space exploration can bring to the region, including economic development, scientific research, and international cooperation. As the UAE continues to make its mark in space exploration, it is likely that other Arab countries will follow suit, paving the way for a new era of progress and cooperation in the region.