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UAE’s Al-Neyadi to be first ever Arab astronaut to perform spacewalk

Sultan Al-Neyadi of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will become the first Arab astronaut to perform a spacewalk on April 28, according to state news agency WAM.

According to WAM, Al-Neyadi, who is currently aboard the International Space Station (ISS) as part of the longest Arab space mission to date, will use the spacewalk – when an astronaut leaves a spaceship or space station – to assist with ISS maintenance and updates.

The spacewalk, which al-Neyadi will perform with NASA Flight Engineer Stephen Bowen, will last approximately six and a half hours.

Astronauts chosen for ISS spacewalks must “pass a rigorous selection process” and demonstrate “exceptional proficiency” in a variety of fields such as engineering, robotics, and life support systems, WAM said.

In preparation for spacewalks, Al-Neyadi trained for more than 55 hours at NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL) at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

On March 2, Al-Neyadi launched into space from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida as part of a six-month mission to conduct experiments ranging from human cell growth in space to controlling combustible materials in microgravity.

Al-Neyadi, 41, is only the second person from his country to fly into space, and he is the first to launch from American soil as part of a long-duration space station team.

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