National Geographic, in partnership with Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), announced today the release of the first long film documenting the UAE’s journey into space.
The brand-new documentary, which is the first of a 4-part film series, premieres on September 19 ahead of the historic International Space Station (ISS) Mission take-off, with Hazzaa AlMansoori as the first Emirati and only Arab aboard. Astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi will also be present at the launch, acting as reserve astronaut for the entire Mission.
The film is accompanied by short vignettes with exclusive coverage on the astronauts’ final preparations for their upcoming Mission. With the imminent space mission launch, the vignettes spotlight AlMansoori and AlNeyadi’s intensive training with prime and backup flight crews in Russia, after completing training with the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA.
A father of four, graduate of Khalifa bin Zayed Air College, AlMansoori joined MBRSC as an astronaut following a career as military pilot. He hopes to inspire the nation by hoisting the UAE flag inside the ISS on September 25. “It will be a great honor to be the first Emirati astronaut to reach the ISS.”
AlMansoori’s dreams of space exploration started at a young age. “I remember in grade four I read in my school book about an Arab astronaut, Prince Sultan bin Salman Al Saud, and I thought that’s it – it’s possible for me. That’s why I applied to join the air force – it felt a little bit closer to the stars.”
Sultan AlNeyadi, who holds a PhD in Information Technology Data Leakage Prevention from Griffith University, talks about his space ambitions as well. “I believe that our journey is just a continuation of what our ancestors started. They studied the stars for centuries and gave them many Arabic names.
When we explore space and raise the UAE flag on board the ISS, we are the nation’s ambassadors. We hope to accomplish this mission perfectly.”
In National Geographic’s unique documentary style, the film captures both science and emotion, with multiple story threads and fascinating back stories. It charts the establishment of the UAE’s space industry over a decade ago and describes upcoming journeys extending over the next 20 years. It introduces viewers to one of the UAE’s most daring projects to date, the 2020 Hope probe, part of the Emirates Mars Mission due to reach the Red planet by 2021, commemorating 50 years since the UAE’s inception.
The film showcases the mission of the Hope Probe, dubbed Mars ‘first true weather satellite,’ to reach and orbit Mars to study its atmospheric layers, sending back valuable information to Earth to benefit advanced scientific study. MBRSC is responsible for the execution and supervision of all stages of the design, development and launch of the Hope Probe in 2020. The UAE Space Agency (UAESA) is funding and supervising procedures and necessary details for the implementation of this project. Following a journey of several months, the probe is expected to enter the Red Planet’s orbit in 2021, coinciding with the Golden Jubilee of the Union.
With unprecedented behind-the-scenes access, the film follows the journey of the first Emirati Astronaut Corps, part of the UAE Astronaut Programme and their preparations for launching into space. With exclusive footage, it also captures the development and historic launch of KhalifaSat, the first satellite manufactured entirely by Emirati engineers and successfully launched in 2018. It revives memorable moments, such as the satellite’s final countdown ahead of its launch in Tanegashima, with the nation and KhalifaSat team holding their breath as they awaited the satellite’s first signal from space.
The show premieres on National Geographic Abu Dhabi at 8pm UAE time/7pm KSA time on September 19, with repeated airings on September 22 at 10pm UAE time/9pm KSA time and on September 23 at 8pm UAE time/7pm KSA time.