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Crew-6 spent 186 days in space, with AlNeyadi's mission becoming the longest in Arab history

UAE astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi is back! The Emirati space traveller and his Crew-6 mates - Nasa astronauts Stephen Bowen and Woody Hoburg, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev - splashed down safely in the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft Monday.

The splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida, happened at 8.17am (UAE time). Crew-6 spent 186 days in space, with AlNeyadi's mission becoming the longest in Arab history.

Here's how the historic event happened:

9.35am: 'You carried the dreams of a new nation', UAE President says

In a heartfelt tweet, the UAE President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan has said: "AlNeyadi, the people of the UAE are immensely proud of you and the entire team for achieving major advances in space exploration. You carried the dreams of a nation to new frontiers, and we celebrate your pioneering journey and safe return."

9.27am: UAE astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi smiles, waves as he slides out of spacecraft

Emirati astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi emerged from the Dragon spacecraft exactly one hour following the splashdown. As anticipated, his initial steps were unsteady, as crew members typically require some time to readjust to gravity, particularly after lengthy missions.

Like his colleagues, AlNeyadi received support, and observers witnessed him sliding out of the capsule. He greeted the moment with a smile and a thumbs-up, signifying his return to Earth's gravity after six months. Subsequently, he was aided into a rolling chair before being transported to the medical bay. The astronauts were greeted with applause both on the deck and at the ground station.

9.21am: Emirati astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi successfully egresses Dragon

Emirati astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi safely exited the Dragon spacecraft after the hatch was opened and the cabin atmosphere deemed secure. The crew members received assistance and were seen sliding out of the capsule.

This marked AlNeyadi’s return to the Earth's gravity after a gap of six-months. They were then taken to the medical bay. The astronauts were welcomed by massive applause on the deck and on the ground station

9.17am: AlNeyadi steps back on Earth!

UAE astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi has stepped out of the Dragon capsule onto Earth after 6 whole months in space. He was the last-remaining crew member on the Dragon, and spent one whole hour in the capsule after splashdown.

9.10am: Crew exits capsule

The Dragon capsule has been placed on the rescue vessel, Megan. The Crew is now stepping out of the capsule and is back on Earth!

9.09am: Sheikh Hamdan wishes UAE astronaut

In a tweet, he says: With Zayed's ambition, we moved from the desert to space... Today, with the return of Sultan Al Neyadi after completing the longest space mission in the history of the Arabs, we are crowning an important stage in the march of a people who do not know the impossible... From today, we are preparing for other tasks in our journey to embrace the stars so that the UAE continues to spread hope A better future in the hearts of all Arabs. We are proud of Sultan and this Emirati footprint in the space sector through 200 scientific experiments conducted by Sultan Al Neyadi at the International Space Station.

9.06am: Sheikh Mohammed congratulates AlNeyadi

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai has congratulated AlNeyadi on his safe arrival back on Earth.

"We congratulate the people of the Emirates and all Arab youth on the safe return of Sultan Al Neyadi to planet Earth - the first Arab astronaut on a long mission to the International Space Station. Sultan conducted 200 scientific research missions.. and spent more than 4,400 hours in space.. and inspired millions of Arab youth that we are able to contribute positively to humanity's scientific and civilized march.."

8.58am: Dragon hatch opened

The Dragon hatch has been opened as the recovery team enters the capsule to conduct a check. A big round of applause welcomed the Crew back on Earth.

8.50am: Dragon now in the air

The Dragon will now be placed onto the Dragon's Nest, after the hydraulic lift picks up the capsule.

8.48am: Five minutes until capsule lift

The egress of the Crew can take anywhere between 15 and 30 minutes more

The hydraulic lift is now in position to lift the Dragon capsule out of the Atlantic Ocean.

8.40am: Egress to take place soon

Dragon capsule to be placed onto the nest after which egress will commence.

8.30am: Recovery personnel prepare to rescue

Recovery personnel are preparing to rescue the crew, as they attempt to get the astronauts into the recovery vessel, Megan. The personnel are seen standing on the Dragon below:


8.28am: Iconic image

Take a look at this iconic timelapse picture taken as the Dragon descended into Earth's atmosphere.

8.25am: Rescue team executing operations

'Megan', the rescue vessel, will now approach the Dragon and take it towards what is known as the 'Dragon's Nest'.

8.19am: Rescue teams approach crew

Two rescue boats are heading towards the crew, one will pick up the crew whereas the other will be picking up pieces of the Dragon.

8.17am: Splashdown!

Emirati astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi has successfully returned to Earth with his three other Crew 6 mission colleagues, after a successful splashdown this morning.

With this, AlNeyadi becomes the first Arab to spend six months aboard the International Space Station (ISS). He will be greeted by his brothers, wife, father and a ‘big group of people’ later, who eagerly await meeting him at the Ellington airport in Houston, US.

Teams on the SpaceX recovery ship, including two fast boats, are now in the process of securing the spacecraft. The recovery ship will move into position to hoist Dragon onto the main deck with the astronauts inside. Once on the main deck, the crew will be taken out of the spacecraft and receive medical checks before a helicopter ride to board a plane for Houston.

8.13am: Drogue parachutes deployed

Sultan AlNeyadi is making his way back to Earth as splashdown inches closes. Four healthy parachute deployments have been made.

8.12am: Comms back

The Crew-6 has re-established normal communications with ground teams.

8.10am: Look up!

UAE residents in Central Florida, look up! You would be able to see a glowing streak across the sky as the Dragon comes back to Earth.

8.05am: Communications blackout begins

The pre-determined communications blackout has now begun, this is set to last for 7 minutes and is standard for the Dragon re-entry.

7.59am: Communications blackout set to begin in five minutes

A communication blackout is set to begin in five minutes. It will last 7 minutes.

7.55am: Atmospheric re-entry begins

External temperatures will reach 3,500ºF (1926.6ºC) during peak burn, internal and external systems will help astronauts stay cool. Nitrox air, which is a mix of nitrogen and oxygen that is put in scuba tanks, is pumped into suits to allow the astronauts remain comfortable.

7.53am: Splashdown – how it will take place

Spacecraft designed for water landings, like SpaceX Crew Dragon, will splash down in the ocean. Astronauts are prepared for all scenario and may need to egress (exit) the spacecraft quickly after landing. After landing, astronauts and support teams on the ground work together to ensure the crew's safety. This includes tasks such as opening the spacecraft hatch, assisting the astronauts in exiting the spacecraft, and providing medical evaluations.

7.44am: 25 minutes before they experience the drag of the spacecraft slowing down

The visors of the astronauts are up. They are going through a dynamic phase. They have 25 minutes before they experience the drag. The visors will come down and the suits will provide that extra layer of protection through atmospheric re-entry. There is a lot of stress on the vehicle at that time.

7.39am: De-orbit burn complete

The pointed structure at the top of the structure that had been opened for operational purposes, it will now be closed for atmospheric entry. This will improve it's aerodynamic abilities as the Dragon gets ready to enter the Earth's atmosphere.

7.32am: Special spacesuits

Each crew member on the Dragon has a special spacesuit to maximise comfort for the astronauts. Not just that, but their seats, buckets and even footrests are made-to-measure!

7.26am: De-orbit burn begins

The de-orbit burn will place the Dragon on the right trajectory to Jacksonville, Florida, US. The retrograde burn will last 16 minutes. The target time for splashdown is 8.07am UAE time.

7.20am: Trunk separation before de-orbit burn

The trunk collects energy from the sun and generates power, after its separation no new power can be generated. The de-orbit sequence has begun.

7.15am: Almost here!

Crew-6 is now on orbit, the MBRSC has said in update. Watch the video below:

7.10am: Welcome team waiting

MBRSC team prepares to receive astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi after his landing. The team consists of astronaut Hazzaa AlMansoori, Astronauts Office Manager, MBRSC; Dr. Hanan Al Suwaidi, AlNeyadi’s Flight Surgeon; and Saeed Al Emadi, from the Strategic Communication department, MBRSC.


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