DUBAI, (Pakistan Point News - 03rd Sep, 2023) The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) today announced the successful undocking of Crew-6, which includes astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi, from the International Space Station (ISS). This marks the beginning of the crew's return journey after the 6-month-long space mission.
The Dragon Endeavour spacecraft carrying onboard Sultan AlNeyadi along with his Crew-6 crewmates, NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen and Woody Hoburg, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev autonomously undocked from the ISS at 3:05 PM (UAE time), following which a series of departure burns were executed to distance itself from the orbiting laboratory. The spacecraft is currently in a safe free drift trajectory back to Earth.
Hamad Obaid AlMansoori, Chairman of MBRSC, stated, “The undocking of the Dragon spacecraft, carrying Sultan AlNeyadi and his Crew-6 members from the ISS marks a significant phase of a journey that's been ongoing over the past six months. The longest Arab space mission undertaken by Sultan reflects the UAE’s commitment to innovation and international collaboration. We eagerly await Sultan's safe return and see it as a beacon for what our nation can achieve. With every milestone, we're not only wrapping up one chapter but also paving the way for future endeavours in space exploration.”
Salem Humaid AlMarri, Director General of MBRSC, added, “The longest Arab space mission, undertaken by Sultan is not just a singular achievement, but a confluence of dedication, strategic planning, and the relentless pursuit of excellence that we have always stood for. With the Dragon spacecraft now safely on its way back, we keenly await Sultan's return. Every phase has been executed meticulously, and we are looking forward to the spacecraft's successful splashdown. It's been an extraordinary journey, and the anticipation for Sultan to reunite with his homeland is palpable."
Following the undocking, if necessary, a series of orbit-lowering manoeuvres, known as phasing burns, will be executed on the spacecraft to align its ground track with the targeted landing location. Before initiating the deorbit burn, the flight computer will jettison the spacecraft's trunk, a step crucial for reducing its mass and conserving propellant. This will pave the way for the spacecraft's deorbit burn, scheduled to last for 12 minutes.
Upon completion, as the spacecraft re-enters Earth’s atmosphere, it will encounter significant heating and drag, effectively reducing its velocity to a safe point suitable for parachute deployment. At an altitude of 18,000 feet, two drogue parachutes will be deployed, quickly followed by the release of four main parachutes at approximately 6,500 feet. Under the steady guidance of these four main parachutes, the spacecraft is projected to make a gentle splashdown at a speed of 25 feet per second off the coast of Tampa, Florida in the Gulf of Mexico on 4th September.
The UAE Astronaut Programme is one of the projects managed by MBRSC under the UAE’s National Space Programme and funded by the ICT Fund of the Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA), which aims to support research and development in the ICT sector in the UAE and promote the country’s integration on the global stage.