First ever Arab Astronaut shares pictures of holy kaaba from the space
*ISLAMABAD - A three-man crew including an Emirati who became the first Arab to reach the International Space Station returned to Earth safely on Thursday and were in good shape, the Russian space agency Roscosmos said.*
Hazzaa al-Mansoori of the United Arab Emirates touched down in the Kazakh steppes at 1059 GMT along with NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin, who both survived a failed launch to the ISS last year.
“The crew that returned to Earth is feeling well,” Roscosmos said immediately after the landing.
Roscosmos footage from the landing site in central Kazakhstan showed Mansoori smiling as he sat wrapped in an Emirati flag after leaving the capsule.
Hague and Ovchinin completed a 203-day mission aboard the orbiting laboratory while Mansoori’s two crewmates from his September 25 launch — Russia’s Oleg Skripochka and NASA’s Jessica Meir — are staying on as part of a six-member team.
Although Mansoori’s mission was short — eight days in total — it has been the source of great pride in the UAE, a newcomer to the world of space with ambitions to send an unmanned probe to orbit Mars by 2021.
UAE leaders were quick to hail his safe return.
Abu Dhabi’s powerful Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan hailed the mission in a Twitter post.
“Congratulations to the people of the UAE for this historic achievement. Zayed’s sons will fulfil our ambition to reach Mars,” the Crown Prince wrote.
Mansoori has been active on Twitter where he shared photos of the UAE and Makkah — Islam’s holiest site — from the space station.
On Thursday, he posted a view of space taken from the station’s Cupola panoramic observatory module and paid tribute to UAE founding father Sheikh Zayed.
“With fear and pride, I am returning with Zayed’s ambition achieved. We are not done yet, and we will never be. To bring back the golden era of Arab astronauts,” he wrote.
Mansoori’s blast-off from the launchpad that sent Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin into space was roared on by a large crowd at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre in the UAE, where he has been feted as a hero. -APP/AFP