Princes and Pilots: Meet the 3 Arab Astronauts Who Made it to Space

Although only three Arab countries have managed to send someone to outer space, the field in the region has clearly been progressing over the past few years. To make a distinguished advancement in the field, entire space centres have been established in some countries, like the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) in the UAE. There have also been several international cooperation agreements with Saudi Arabia to enhance space exploration.

The three Arab men who traveled to space were from Saudi Arabia, Syria, and the UAE. In chronological order: Prince Sultan bin Salman Al-Saud, Muhammed Ahmed Faris, and Hazzaa Ali Al Mansoori. Scroll down to find out more about each one of them.

Prince Sultan bin Salman Al-Saud

Born in Riyadh in 1956, Sultan bin Salman is a former Royal Saudi Air Force pilot, who, in 1985, flew among the crew of the Space Shuttle Discovery as Payload Specialist, on its Mission STS 51G. Thus, becoming the first Arab to travel to space, and of royal blood too! From a young age, this royal prince dreamed of flying; he took aviation lessons and gained a private pilot license, in 1977, from the US Federal Aviation Administration. In 2019, he published a book entitled “Seven Days in Space: Story of the first Arab Astronaut”.

Muhammed Faris

On 22 July, 1987, Muhammed Faris became the first Syrian, and second Arab, to travel to space. Faris was a fighter pilot, aviation instructor, and a specialist in navigation. After being selected to take part in the Intercosmos spaceflight program, he flew into space as a research cosmonaut on board a Soyuz TM-3 spacecraft, as part of the first visiting crew to the Mir orbital space station, along with two Soviet cosmonauts, Aleksandr Viktorenko and Aleksandr P. Aleksandrov. He became a national hero upon his return to earth after spending eight days in space. He also received the Soviet Union’s highest civilian decoration, the Order of Lenin.

Hazzaa Al Mansoori

via See

Hazzaa Al Mansoori was the first Emirati astronaut and the he third Arab man to travel into space, and the first Arab on board the International Space Station (ISS). He was also the UAE’s youngest F-16 pilot, a Functional Check Flight Pilot in the UAE’s F-16B60 Air Force Fleet, and a Solo Demonstration Pilot. After being selected as part of the UAE Astronaut Programme, on 25 September 2019, Hazzaa joined American Jessica Meir and Russian Oleg Scribochka, in a space mission to conduct scientific experiments at the ISS.

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