Emirates, in collaboration with the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), is celebrating the UAE’s visionary national space initiatives with a one-off special flight. National heroes Dr Sultan AlNeyadi, who recently returned from a 6-month mission on the International Space Station (ISS) and Hazzaa AlMansoori, the first Emirati astronaut in space were guests of honour onboard. The MBRSC team has played a key role in fostering a strong and diverse space sector by developing its capacities and expertise to compete on the global stage through conducting a number of missions and projects for the UAE.
The Emirates A380 was emblazoned with a specially designed astronaut decal, celebrating the UAE’s vision to build its capabilities in space exploration and aerospace innovation on the global stage. Commanded by Captain Abdalla Abdelrahman Al Hammadi and First Officer Alex Van Der Veer, EK2641 took off from Dubai International Airport at 12:00, cruising across all seven Emirates. Joining the astronauts onboard were Salem Humaid AlMarri, Director General of MBRSC, Emirates’ Chief Operating Officer, Adel Al Redha, astronauts Sultan AlNeyadi, Hazzaa AlMansoori and crew members of Expedition 69 along with close to 200 employees from MBRSC.
Before take-off, Dr Sultan AlNeyadi and Hazza Al Mansouri visited Emirates Headquarters and were welcomed by Emirates’ President Sir Tim Clark and Chief Operating Officer Adel Al Redha. Emirates employees then had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to join a Q&A followed by a meet and greet with the two admired astronauts.
Salem Humaid AlMarri, Director General, MBRSC said: “We are grateful to Emirates for this exceptional gesture, honouring the astronauts and the team at MBRSC. Today’s event symbolised our shared vision and commitment to pioneering and recognizing the contributions of the aerospace sector. As we look to the future, MBRSC remains dedicated to driving the UAE and the region towards new frontiers in space exploration and innovation. With our leadership’s futuristic vision, we are ready to uncover new discoveries, achieve milestones, and further enhance our nation’s global presence in the field of space.”
Adel Al Redha, Emirates COO said: “We are honoured to celebrate the successful mission and return of Dr Sultan AlNeyadi, as well as the ground-breaking work of MBRSC to propel the UAE’s flourishing space sector. Whether it’s soaring through the skies or rocketing into the atmosphere, Emirates pilots and MBRSC astronauts share a passion for discovery and are a source of innovation and inspiration for all. As MBRSC pioneers the final frontier, Emirates’ vast network of over 140 destinations across six continents enable earth-bound travellers to explore almost every corner of the world. Together, we will continue to support the UAE’s vision to unveil new knowledge and discover new horizons, both on and off planet.”
Established in 2006, MBRSC is an advanced scientific and technological hub, responsible for making the UAE a world leader in space services and exploration. In addition to the world-class UAE Astronaut Programme, MBRSC is an incubator of innovation, developing some of the world’s most high-accuracy, high-resolution imaging satellites to produce data and analysis for the global scientific and research communities. MBRSC also launched several exploration initiatives, including the successful Emirates Mars Mission in 2021 which has been collecting essential data on the red planet’s atmosphere for over one Martian year – equivalent to approximately two Earth years.
With the clear synergies between aviation and aerospace, Emirates is also contributing to the country’s ecosystem. The Emirates Flight Training Academy, with its cutting-edge technologies, is one of the most advanced pilot training programmes in the world, preparing the next generation of aviators to push boundaries as they take to the skies. With 289 cadets currently enrolled, 222 of whom are Emirati, and a further 120 who graduated and are now flying for Emirates, the airline is committed to developing the country’s pipeline of talented and experienced pilots.