UAE's 1st long-duration astronaut celebrates Eid in space to end Ramadan

sultan al-neyadi in front of three large windows in a space station. behind is the earth with clouds on the surface
Sultan Al Neyadi, the first Emirati long-duration astronaut, inside the International Space Station cupola on March 5, 2023. (Image credit: NASA)

The first Emirati astronaut is readying to celebrate Eid, with his space mascot.

The end of Ramadan is usually marked with local sightings of the crescent moon. From the International Space Station, astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi confirmed on Twitter he will mark the end of Ramadan today (April 21). 

"Today, I'll be celebrating Eid with my trusty companion Suhail," Al Neyadi wrote, referring to the cartoon-character astronaut mascot of the mission. (Suhail is the Arabic name for the star Canopus. That star is important in the Middle East as it marks the end of summer and the cooler season, the astronaut has said.)

Related: UAE astronaut mascot 'Suhail' flies again as SpaceX Crew-6 zero-g indicator

Al Neyadi's announcement follows from the United Arab Emirates Sighting Committee spotting the moon and marking the beginning of Eid-Al-Fatr in the emirates, according to Gulf News.

"On this blessed occasion I send my warmest greetings to my family, friends, and everyone back on Earth. May this special occasion bring you peace, happiness, and prosperity. Eid Mubarak," Al Neyadi added in his tweet.

Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, was forecasted to last roughly from March 22 to April 22 depending on local sightings of the crescent moon. Al Neyadi spent all of Ramadan in space, as he arrived March 2 after launching into orbit aboard SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket in a Crew Dragon spacecraft.

Related: SpaceX Crew-6 astronaut mission: Live updates

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) astronaut program mascot Suhail floats aboard the International Space Station in 2019. (Image credit: Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center)

While most adult Muslims are required to fast from dawn to sunset as one of the five Pillars of Islam, Al Neyadi previously told reporters he may not participate for operational reasons.

"We're actually allowed to eat sufficient food and to prevent any escalation of lack of food or nutrition or hydration," Al Neyadi said of Muslim travelers during a pre-flight press conference on Jan. 25. His concerns also included avoiding activities "that can jeopardize the mission or maybe put the crewmember in a risk." 

The first astronaut to mark Ramadan in space was Prince Sultan bin Salman Al-Saud of Saudi Arabia, who launched towards the end of the holy month on June 17, 1985 during the weeklong space shuttle mission STS-51G. 

Al Neyadi, the first long-duration astronaut from the Emirates, is performing 19 dedicated experiments and is scheduled to take the first-ever spacewalk for that country on April 28. 

Elizabeth Howell is the co-author of "Why Am I Taller?" (ECW Press, 2022; with Canadian astronaut Dave Williams), a book about space medicine. Follow her on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: