The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) has announced that astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi is scheduled to return from the International Space Station (ISS) on 4 September 2023 following his completion of the longest Arab space mission in history, spanning 6 months.

Al Neyadi along with NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen and Warren Hoburg, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev, will depart the International Space Station (ISS) aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft Endeavour on 3 September 2023. Donning their pressure suits, the team is set for a splashdown off the coast of Tampa, Florida in the Gulf of Mexico on 4 September 2023.

Prior to initiating the deorbit sequence, stringent checks will be performed, especially pertaining to forecasted weather conditions and recovery readiness at the designated splashdown location.

Following these verifications, the following steps will take place. Departure: The Dragon spacecraft will autonomously undock from the ISS on 3 September 2023 and perform a series of departure burns to move away from the orbiting laboratory. Phasing burns: If required, a series of orbit-lowering manoeuvres will be done on the spacecraft that line up its ground track with the desired landing location. Trunk jettison: Prior to the spacecraft’s deorbit burn, the flight computer will jettison the trunk in order to reduce mass and save propellant. Deorbit burn: The spacecraft will conduct its deorbit burn, which lasts 12 minutes. Re-entry: The spacecraft will experience significant heating and drag as it re-enters Earth’s atmosphere, which slows the velocity to the point of safe parachute deploy. Parachute deployment: The spacecraft’s two drogue parachutes will deploy at 5.5km followed by four main parachutes that deploy at 2km. Splashdown: Under four main parachutes, the spacecraft will safely touch down at a velocity of 27 kilometres per hour and autonomously release its parachutes off the coast of Tampa, Florida in the Gulf of Mexico on 4 September 2023.

The longest Arab space mission in history was launched on 2 March 2023 at 9:34am (UAE time), aboard the SpaceX Dragon Endeavour spacecraft.

Over the course of the mission, Al Neyadi was involved in over 200 experiments, partnering with international space agencies and UAE and global universities. His contributions span diverse fields, including plant genetics, human life sciences, exploration technology, fluid dynamics, material science, protein crystallisation growth and advanced exploration technologies. These experiments have been instrumental in helping the scientific community, researchers, and students in the UAE and around the world become an integral part of the mission, supporting it in various capacities. Al Neyadi also accomplished a number of firsts for a UAE astronaut during this mission, including becoming the first Arab to complete a spacewalk, alongside his fellow crewmate NASA astronaut Bowen.

Al Neyadi also engaged in 19 educational and community outreach events called the A Call from Space series, in which over 10,000 people took part and interacted with the Emirati astronaut through live video calls and ham radio sessions.

As the mission approaches its conclusion, Crew-6 team is currently involved in the handover activity with Crew-7 astronauts, who successfully docked and entered the ISS on 27 August 2023 at 6:58pm (UAE time).

The UAE Astronaut Programme is one of the projects managed by MBRSC under the UAE’s National Space Programme and funded by the ICT Fund of the Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA), which aims to support research and development in the ICT sector in the UAE and promote the country’s integration on the global stage.