First Emirati Astronaut Returns to Earth with Russian-US Space Station Crew

The first Emirati astronaut has returned to Earth after an eight day mission to the International Space Station, landing with Russian and American crewmates were were in orbit for seven months.

Hazzaa AlMansoori of the United Arab Emirates' (UAE) Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) touched down with Aleksey Ovchinin of Roscosmos and Nick Hague of NASA aboard Russia's Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft. Descending under a parachute and slowed by braking thrusters, the capsule landed on the steppe of Kazakhstan, near the town of Dzhezkazgan, at 6:59 a.m. EDT (1059 GMT or 4:59 p.m. local time) on Thursday (Oct. 3).

Met by Russian recovery forces and members of their respective space agencies, Ovchinin, Hague and AlMansoori were helped out of their spacecraft and given brief medical exams as they began adjusting to being back on Earth. The three appeared to be in good health, smiling and talking to family members by phone.

Related: Hazzaa Almansoori: The 1st UAE Astronaut's Space Mission in Photos

The Russian Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft carrying astronauts Nick Hague of NASA, Aleksey Ovchinn of Roscosmos and Hazzaa Ali AlMansoori of UAE approaches a landing from the International Space Station on the steppe of Kazakhstan on Oct. 3, 2019.  (Image credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The landing brought to a close Ovchinin and Hague's 203-day mission, during which they served on the space station's 59th and 60th expedition crews. The two arrived at the orbiting lab on March 14, 2019, five months after they survived an inflight abort on their first attempt at reaching the station.

AlMansoori, as a spaceflight participant flying under a contract between Russia and the UAE, lifted off with his landing crewmates' replacements, Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos and Jessica Meir of NASA, on Soyuz MS-15 on Sept. 25. For eight days, he, Skripochka, Meir, Ovchinin and Hague worked together with Expedition 60 crew members Alexander Skvortsov of Roscosmos, Andrew Morgan of NASA and Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency (ESA).

On Tuesday (Oct. 2), Ovchinin handed over command of the station to Parmitano, a first for an astronaut from Italy.

"This has been a long and interesting flight," said Ovchinin during a brief televised change of command ceremony. "It has been exciting, it has been a thrill and ride."

Ovchinin, Hague and AlMansoori's departure from the station marked the official end of Expedition 60 and start of Expedition 61. Soyuz MS-12 undocked from the Rassvet module at 3:37 a.m. EDT (0737 GMT).

Three and a half hours later, after a de-orbit burn at 6:06 a.m. EDT (1006 GMT), the Soyuz and its crew were safely on the ground.

AlMansoori logged 7 days, 21 hours and 1 minute circling Earth 128 times on his first spaceflight. A 35-year-old former military pilot, he was selected for the UAE astronaut program from a pool of more than 4,000 applicants. In addition to representing his country, AlMansoori was also the third Arab to fly in space after Prince Sultan bin Salman al-Saud of Saudi Arabia and Muhammed Faris of Syria.

In Photos: The Spacewalking Astronauts of Expedition 60

From left: Astronauts Hazzaa AlMansoori (UAE), Aleksey Ovchinin (Roscosmos) and Nick Hague (NASA)are seen shortly after landing on board Soyuz MS-12.  (Image credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Hague, 44, has now completed his second spaceflight after reaching the fringes of space on the Soyuz MS-10 abort. A member of NASA's 2013 astronaut class (nicknamed the "8 Balls"), Hague conducted three extravehicular activities (EVAs, or spacewalks) totaling 19 hours and 56 minutes outside the space station.

Ovchinin, 48, completed his third mission to the station (including the MS-10 abort). In 2016, he served as an Expedition 47/48 flight engineer. With more than 374 days in space — including one EVA lasting 6 hours and 1 minute — he now ranks 31st out of the 572 people who have flown in space by total time spent off Earth.

Departing their landing site, Ovchinin, Hague and AlMansoori will be flown by helicopter to the Kazakh town of Karaganda for a welcome ceremony before Ovchinin and AlMansoori leave for Star City, near Moscow, and Hague boards a NASA jet for the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Soyuz MS-12 was the 58th Soyuz to launch for the International Space Station. It traveled 80.8 million miles (130 million km) completing 3,248 orbits of Earth.

Follow on Facebook and on Twitter at @collectSPACE. Copyright 2019 All rights reserved.

Follow Doris Elin Urrutia on Twitter @salazar_elin. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on  

All About Space banner

Need more space? You can get 5 issues of our partner "All About Space" Magazine for $5 for the latest amazing news from the final frontier! (Image credit: All About Space magazine)

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at:

Robert Z. Pearlman Editor, Contributor

Robert Pearlman is a space historian, journalist and the founder and editor of, an online publication and community devoted to space history with a particular focus on how and where space exploration intersects with pop culture. Pearlman is also a contributing writer for and co-author of "Space Stations: The Art, Science, and Reality of Working in Space” published by Smithsonian Books in 2018. He previously developed online content for the National Space Society and Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin, helped establish the space tourism company Space Adventures and currently serves on the History Committee of the American Astronautical Society, the advisory committee for The Mars Generation and leadership board of For All Moonkind. In 2009, he was inducted into the U.S. Space Camp Hall of Fame in Huntsville, Alabama. In 2021, he was honored by the American Astronautical Society with the Ordway Award for Sustained Excellence in Spaceflight History.