First Arab astronaut set for International Space Station voyage, alongside a Jew
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First Arab astronaut set for International Space Station voyage, alongside a Jew

UAE’s Hazzaa al-Mansoori ready for takeoff Wednesday with Jessica Meir, whose father is Israeli

Members of the main crew to the International Space Station (ISS), United Arab Emirates' astronaut Hazza Al Mansouri (left), Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka and US astronaut Jessica Meir pose during a press conference at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on September 24, 2019. (Vyacheslav OSELEDKO / AFP)
Members of the main crew to the International Space Station (ISS), United Arab Emirates' astronaut Hazza Al Mansouri (left), Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka and US astronaut Jessica Meir pose during a press conference at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on September 24, 2019. (Vyacheslav OSELEDKO / AFP)

An Emirati astronaut who will make history by becoming the first Arab on the International Space Station said Tuesday he had received support from around the world before his “dream” mission.

Hazzaa al-Mansoori, 35, is set to blast into space accompanied by Russia’s Oleg Skripochka and NASA astronaut Jessica Meir — a Swedish-American Jew whose father is Israeli — onboard a Soyuz rocket from Baikonur in Kazakhstan on Wednesday.

Mansoori, who will spend eight days on the ISS, will be the first Emirati astronaut and the first Arab on the orbiting laboratory, but not the first Muslim.

Members of the main crew to the International Space Station (ISS), United Arab Emirates’ astronaut Hazzaa al-Mansoori and US astronaut Jessica Meir, speak at a press conference at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on September 24, 2019. (Combo photos by Vyacheslav OSELEDKO / AFP)

“It is really an honor and we are looking forward to make this mission successful and to come back with a lot of knowledge,” the pilot told a pre-flight news conference.

The International Space Station (photo credit: courtesy NASA)

He said the trip was a milestone for his country and the Arab world.

“This achievement will be in history and it will be continued,” he said. “The dream has come true.”

Mansoori said that he would record his prayer routine on the ISS and broadcast it to people on Earth.

“As a fighter pilot I already prayed in my aircraft,” he said, explaining that he had experience of prayers at high speed.

Mansoori also plans to conduct experiments and said he would take Emirati food with him to share with the crew.

Skripochka, first-time flyer Meir and Mansoori will join a six-member crew on the ISS and for a brief period of time the ISS will be home to nine astronauts.

The Soyuz booster rocket FG with Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft is mounted on the launch pad at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on September 23, 2019. (MAXIM SHIPENKOV / POOL / AFP)

Meir, 42, said it was “quite an achievement” for the United Arab Emirates to have a man in space, given that its program is so new.

She said the crew communicated by using “Runglish” — a mixture of Russian and English.

“We still need to work on our Arabic,” she joked.

Mansoori is set to return to Earth with NASA’s Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin on October 3. Skripochka and Meir are set to remain on the ISS until the spring of 2020.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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