UAE astronaut Sultan al-Neyadi said on Wednesday that he will not be required to fast during Ramadan during the upcoming space mission.
The 41-year-old astronaut will become the first Arab astronaut to spend six months in space when he sets off for the International Space Station (ISS) next month on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
Neyadi, NASA’s Stephen Bowen and Warren Hoburg, and Russia’s Andrey Fedyaev are scheduled to fly to the ISS on February 26 as members of the SpaceX Dragon Crew-6.
Asked at a press conference on Tuesday how they would celebrate the holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims usually fast from dawn to dusk, Neyadi said his case is an exception.
Neyadi said, “I am… the definition of traveller, and we can actually break the fast.” “Not required.”
“Actually, fasting isn’t mandatory if you’re not feeling well,” he said.
“So in that context, anything that could endanger the mission or put crew members at risk, we’re actually allowed to eat enough.”
Neyadi will be the second citizen from the oil-rich United Arab Emirates to go into space.
In September 2019, Hazzaa al-Mansoori spent eight days aboard the ISS.
NASA astronauts and Russian cosmonauts at Johnson Space Center on Wednesday were also asked if any political tensions on Earth, such as Ukraine, have spilled into space.
“I’ve been working and training with cosmonauts for over 20 years, and it’s always been great,” said Bowen, a NASA veteran on three space shuttle missions.
“When you go into space, it’s just a crew, a vehicle, and we all have the same purpose.”
Fedyaev pointed to the “very long history” of space cooperation between Russia and the United States.
“The life of people in space aboard the International Space Station is a really good example of how people should live on Earth,” said the Russian cosmonaut.
– Five-day handover –
NASA officials said they expect SpaceX Dragon Crew-6 members to make a five-day handover with four members of Dragon Crew-5, which has been on the ISS since October.
Also, the Soyuz crew capsule, which is the return vehicle of three astronauts currently aboard the ISS, was damaged by a small meteorite impact in December.
Russia plans to send an empty spacecraft to the ISS on February 20 to bring home the trio – Russian cosmonauts Dmitry Petelin and Sergei Prokopyev and NASA astronaut Frank Rubio.
The Soyuz MS-22 crew capsule caused a radiator coolant leak after the meteoroid impact.
MS-22 flew Petelin, Prokopyev and Rubio to the ISS after taking off from the Russian-run Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in September.
They were scheduled to return home in the same spacecraft in March, but their stay on the ISS will now be extended for a few more months.
Russia has been using aging but reliable Soyuz capsules since the 1960s to transport astronauts into space.
Space has remained a rare field of cooperation between Moscow and Washington since the beginning of the Russian offensive on Ukraine.
The ISS was launched in 1998, at a time when US-Russian cooperation increased following the Cold War “Space Race”.