Sultan Al Neyadi to perform 1st spacewalk by an Arab astronaut this month

United Arab Emirates astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi onboard the International Space Station. (Image credit: NASA)

March 3 was a big day for rookie astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) — it was his first day in orbit. But his off-Earth experience is about to become even more memorable.

On April 28, Al Neyadi is scheduled to perform a spacewalk outside the International Space Station (ISS). The 6.5-hour extravehicular activity (EVA) will be the first ever for an Arab astronaut, and it will make the UAE the 10th country with a spacewalking citizen. 

During the EVA, Al Neyadi and crewmate Stephen Bowen of NASA will retrieve a piece of communications equipment called a Radio Frequency Group (RFG) unit that's due to be returned to Earth. The duo will also prepare the ISS for the installation of advanced solar arrays, which will occur on a future spacewalk.

Related: UAE's 1st long-duration astronaut sets sights on moon and Mars

"I am eagerly awaiting this historic moment, for which I have trained extensively at the Johnson Space Center. I am looking forward to represent my country and continue the exceptional journey started by generations of astronauts before me," Al Neyadi wrote on Twitter on April 6.

Al Neyadi spent more than 55 hours underwater at NASA's Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory in Houston, a full-size replica of the ISS submerged in a pool. Being underwater mimics weightlessness, making this aquatic lab the ideal training center for spacewalking astronauts.

The astronaut launched from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on March 2, 2023, as part of SpaceX's Crew-6 mission. He will remain aboard the ISS for six months as the UAE's first long-duration astronaut and second astronaut overall, performing an anticipated 19 experiments studying everything from back pain to plant biology. 

It's a life-changing mission for Al Neyadi, who shared his excitement about receiving his gold NASA gold astronaut pin on Twitter on April 4

"It is a great honour for me to be part of this historic mission, representing my country, the UAE, and to receive NASA's golden astronaut pin. I will wear this pin as a symbol of the commitment I made when I started on this journey," he wrote.

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Stefanie Waldek
Contributing writer contributing writer Stefanie Waldek is a self-taught space nerd and aviation geek who is passionate about all things spaceflight and astronomy. With a background in travel and design journalism, as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree from New York University, she specializes in the budding space tourism industry and Earth-based astrotourism. In her free time, you can find her watching rocket launches or looking up at the stars, wondering what is out there. Learn more about her work at