CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida — The second astronaut from the United Arab Emirates is still adjusting to life off the planet, after rocketing to the International Space Station last week.
“I’m still coping. I’m still learning,” Sultan al-Neyadi said Tuesday, but added that he hopes to improve in the coming days.
He’s the second UAE astronaut to fly in space and the first from the Arab world to be assigned to a long spaceflight — the others stayed for about a week. He’ll be up there until September.
Al-Neyadi assured Dubai’s ruler in a video call Tuesday that he and the rest of his crew are in good health. But he joked that the small plush astronaut toy that he took up may be coping better with microgravity than he is.
“I am thankful to God you have reached the International Space Station and thank God for your safety,” Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who also serves as the country’s prime minister and vice president, said from the space center named after him.
SpaceX launched al-Neyadi, a Russian cosmonaut and two NASA astronauts on their six-month mission last Thursday.
The first UAE astronaut, Hazzaa al-Mansoori took part in Tuesday’s brief video chat from Dubai. Al-Neyadi’s astronaut toy, nicknamed Suhail, Arabic for the brilliant star Canopus, also accompanied al-Mansoori on his 2019 space station mission.
“Hopefully, people will follow in the footstep of my brother Hazzaa and my footsteps,” al-Neyadi said, the flags for the UAE and its space center hanging behind him. “This is what we hope for.”