Satellite

Custom Soyuz (MS-15) seats designed for Emirati astronauts

A specialised team from the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos have designed two custom Soyuz MS-15 seats for Emirati astronauts Hazzaa AlMansoori and Sultan AlNeyadi. AlMansoori has been chosen to fly for the eight-day space mission to ISS aboard a Soyuz-MS 15 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on 25 September 2019 and return to Earth aboard a Soyuz-MS 12 while AlNeyadi will be his backup.

This update follows the official announcement of the launch date of the first Arab and Emirati astronaut to travel to the International Space Station (ISS) on 25 September, 2019.

The Russian Space Agency Roscosmos has taken detailed measurements of the astronauts’ bodies to design the seats, in line with the agreement signed between the UAE, represented by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), and Russia, represented by the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos, to send the first Emirati astronaut to participate in scientific research in a space mission to the ISS, as part of the UAE Astronaut Programme.

The engineering team took detailed measurements of the astronauts’ bodies and put them into a Soyuz mockup mini bathtub to ensure that the seats correctly fit the two astronauts. After manufacturing the Soyuz seats, the two astronauts will ensure that the measurements of the chairs are accurate as a necessary procedure to ensure the safety and comfort of the astronauts aboard their trip to the ISS.

In a video posted on MBRSC’s social media platforms, AlMansoori and AlNeyadi are seated in a Soyuz mockup mini bathtub, wearing two Sokol spacesuits. 

His Excellency Yousuf Hamad AlShaibani, Director General of MBRSC, said: “Beginning to design two custom Soyuz MS-15 seats for AlMansoori and AlNeyadi is a new and important step in sending the first Arab and Emirati astronaut to the ISS”.

AlShaibani stressed that these advanced stages confirm the pivotal role played by the UAE and its organisations in the global space sector.

Salem AlMarri, Assistant Director General for Science and Technology Sector, Head of UAE Astronaut Programme, said: “Reaching this important stage highlights our determination to move forward. The process of manufacturing the Soyuz seats, and conforming to standard specifications and safety factors is a very important step in the trip to the ISS”.

“Manufacturing the custom Soyuz MS-15 seats is highly dependent on several safety and security factors, including ensuring that the sizes of the chairs are accurate, as well as sitting on them and experimenting several positions, as a necessary procedure to ensure the safety and comfort of the astronauts aboard their trip to the ISS. This is currently being worked on,” noted AlMarri.

AlMansoori and AlNeyadi are currently undergoing training at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia in preparation for this mission. 

The UAE Astronaut Programme is funded by the ICT fund of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA). Launched in 2007, this fund, which is the first of its kind in the Arab world, aims towards supporting research and development within the ICT sector in the UAE, helping it to grow into a nationally significant industry with a leading place in the world. 

The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre, founded in 2006, is home to the UAE National Space Programme. The Centre builds and operates earth observation satellites, offering imaging and data analysis services to clients around the world.