Hazzaa Al Mansoori is boarding a Soyuz spacecraft in Kazakhstan on Wednesday, September 25, to become the first-ever Emirati to go into space. The launch is set to take place from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The 34-year-old military test pilot will be accompanied by NASA astronaut Jessica Meir and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka in expedition 61-62 to the International Space Center.

“This mission is a great milestone for me personally and for my country and for the whole Arab region in general,” Al Mansoori said in a news conference at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in the beginning of July. “I’m looking forward to coming back with knowledge and experience to share with everyone.”

United Arab Emirates national space program began searching for its first astronaut in 2017. More than 4,000 Emiratis between the ages of 17 and 67 applied.

The astronaut will spend eight days on the space station, where he is expected to conduct 15 experiments and to give a tour of the space station in Arabic. He will return to Earth on October 3 alongside NASA’s Nick Hague and Roscosmos’s Alexey Ovchinin.

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