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The 1st Emirati Astronaut Has Had a Blast in Space, But It's Time to Come Home

The first astronaut to reach space from the United Arab Emirates, Hazzaa Ali Almansoori, will return to Earth Thursday (Oct. 3) after an historic spaceflight for the UAE Space Agency, and he's apparently having a blast. 

Almansoori discussed his eight-day flight in one of a series of video broadcasts here while demonstrating the rotational skills of a free-flying Japanese robot and how disorienting it can be to figure out what's "up" in space. 

Almansoori launched to the space station Sept. 25 with NASA astronaut Jessica Meir and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka, who were kicking off their own six-month mission. He is scheduled to land back on Earth Thursday at 7 a.m. EDT (1100 GMT) on a Soyuz spacecraft with crewmates Nick Hague of NASA and Alexey Ovchinin of Russia.

You can watch Almansoori's return to Earth live in a series of NASA TV webcasts, beginning tonight at 11:45 p.m. EDT (0345 Oct. 3 GMT) with a hatch closing and farewell ceremony on the station. At 3 a.m. EDT (0700 GMT), NASA will webcast the Soyuz capsule's undocking. Landing coverage begins at 5:30 a.m. EDT (0930 GMT). 

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

A short flight

United Arab Emirates astronaut Hazzaa Ali Almansoori poses for a selfie in the Cupola observation module of the International Space Station on Oct. 2, 2019 during the UAE's first human spaceflight.

(Image credit: UAE Space Agency/Hazzaa Ali Almansoori via Twitter)

Though Almansoori's stay in space is relatively brief, the trip is historic: He is the first visitor to the International Space Station (ISS) representing the United Arab Emirates, making the nation the 40th in the world to send someone into space. 

Over the course of his visit, Almansoori has expressed his enthusiasm over Twitter, where he has been chronicling the mission as @Astro_Hazzaa

"Delighted for the opportunity to share part of our Emirati culture with the crew aboard the ISS,'' he shared in a Tuesday (Oct. 1) alongside a photo with the other eight crew members currently onboard the orbiting lab. 

A couple of hours later, Almansoori shared a bird's-eye view of his home country, tweeting, "From the happiest astronaut to the happiest nation...this is history, this is the UAE from space." You can see that photo here

Almansoori has also been performing fluid experiments and other investigations as part of his mission. In the recent video, published Monday (Sept. 30) by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Almansoori demonstrates a Japanese flying robot called Int-Ball

The video was an educational project transmitted down to Earth for UAE students to observe, to get quizzed on their robotic-axis savviness and also ask their own questions of Almansoori's experience in space. The video also began with a pre-recorded segment in which Almansoori and fellow trained UAE astronaut Sultan Alneyadi introduce the spaceflight partnership between Japan and the UAE.

Almansoori's flight was arranged by the UAE Space Agency under a partnership with Russia's space agency Roscosmos.

UAE astronaut Hazzaa Ali Almansoori demonstrates the small INT-Ball robot for students and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency inside the Japanese Kibo module on the International Space Station.

(Image credit: UAE Space Agency/Hazzaa Ali Almansoori via Twitter)

"The first time I was on the ISS it was difficult for me to recognize where is up and where is down," Almansoori said in response to a question from a young man back on Earth. "But the good thing is we have the deck," and Almansoori then signals towards his feet, and continues. "We call this the deck here, or floor, and this is our reference."

The Emirati space flyer added that this disorientation is something he prepared for during training.

Almansoori gave the presentation from the International Space Station's Japanese laboratory module called Kibo, which translates to ''hope'' in Japanese. 

It's been a crowded week onboard the space lab. In addition to Almansoori, Meir, Hague Skripochka and Ovchinin, the station is home to NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Drew Morgan, ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov. 

Visit Space.com for complete ISS crew landing overnight and early Thursday.

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

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(Image credit: All About Space magazine)

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