Abu Dhabi
File picture used for illustration purpose only

The first-ever Emirati astronaut will return to Earth on Thursday, October 3, after successfully completing his eight-day-long milestone mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

In fact, thousands of Emiratis are eagerly waiting to receive their hero, who made history by making the impossible dream a reality.

Major Hazza Al Mansouri, along with Nasa astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin, will return to the remote town of Zhezqazghan in Kazakhstan roughly around 4.30 pm IST (3 pm Dubai time) in the Russian spacecraft Soyuz MS-12.

"The landing should take place at around 3 pm Dubai time, and procedures [to begin descent] usually start about three-and-a-half hours before that," Salem Al Merri, assistant director-general of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), was quoted as saying by the local media.

The 34-year old UAE astronaut, who conducted several scientific experiments on space, also took pictures, showing the brightly lit bustling cities. Taking to Instagram, Al Mansouri took the picture as he orbits around in the ISS. The image showed the UAE by night.

Clusters of light connected by thin golden lines - the lamp posts illuminating the country's main motorways - made identifying each emirate easy. Dubai shines the brightest with almost a white light visible from space while Abu Dhabi and Al Ain can also clearly be seen.

Return Journey

After landing, the former military fighter jet pilot and the other two team members have to undergo certain mandatory medical procedures before removing their spacesuit.

abu dhabi from space

Al Mansouri, along with his two other team members, will head to Moscow from Kazakhstan for a week for post-mission health checks before returning to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The Russian spacecraft consists of three parts – the orbital unit, the docking unit and the landing unit. On its return to Earth, the first and second separates and burns in the atmosphere, leaving the latter carrying the astronauts that will drop to Earth.

Al Mansouri, a father of four young children, was graduated from the Khalifa Bin Zayed Air College, and is a qualified F-16B60 instructor pilot and a demo pilot, who was also one of the first Arab and Emirati pilots to take part in the Dubai Air Show's celebrations of the 50th anniversary of UAE Armed Forces.

After reaching Dubai, a special programme will be held at the MBRSC headquarters for Hazza's return trip to Earth, but a date is yet to be finalised for the return journey from Moscow.

During his eight days in space, Hazza would have completed 128 orbits of Earth covering 4.9 million kilometres, according to Nasa.

The UAE is the 38th country to send someone to space and the mission not only represents a historical milestone for the UAE but for the entire Middle East region.