UAE astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi bid his Saudi counterparts — Rayyanah Barnawi and Ali AlQarni — a heartfelt adieu as they concluded their nine-day scientific mission aboard the orbiting International Space Station (ISS) on Tuesday.
“It was a pleasure working with both of you and we have made great memories. I will surely miss speaking Arabic aboard the ISS. Adieu for now, and may our paths cross again,” said AlNeyadi, who is the first Arab astronaut who completed a spacewalk as part of his long-duration space mission.
The three Arab astronauts made history when Barnawi and AlQarni arrived at the ISS on May 22. It was the first time two Arab countries were represented in the orbiting space laboratory, and it was the first time three Arab astronauts have worked together on a scientific mission 400km above Earth. Barnawi, for her part, became the first female Arab astronaut in space.
Excitement is high as the world prepares to welcome home the two Arab astronauts who are part of the Axiom Mission 2 (Ax-2) that includes commander Peggy Whitson and pilot John Shoffner.
The SpaceX Dragon transport undocked from the space-facing port of the ISS’s Harmony module at 7.05pm (UAE time).
According to Nasa update, Dragon is slowly maneuvering away from the orbital laboratory into an orbital track that will return the astronaut crew and its cargo safely to Earth, targeting a splashdown off the coast of Panama City, Florida, targeted about 7.04am on Wednesday, May 31.
The SpaceX Dragon will return to Earth with more than 300 pounds of science and supplies, including Nasa experiments and hardware.
Although it was goodbye for now, Barnawi said before leaving the ISS that it was also the beginning of a new era for Saudi Arabia and the region.
She tweeted: “Every story comes to an end, and this is only the beginning of a new era for our country and our region.. Thanks to everyone who have helped us.”
AlQarni also tweeted: “Thank you, ISS team, for yo ur hospitality, and hopefully we will come again with more scientific experiments.”
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