UAE bid to send first Emirati into space on track after rocket launch

Russia has launched its first manned flight to the International Space Station since an aborted mission in October

The UAE’s historic maiden astronaut mission is back on track after Russia completed its first successful voyage to the International Space Station since an aborted flight in October.

A three man crew successfully blasted off from Baikonur in Kazakhstan heading for the International Space Station on Monday.

It lifted a cloud that has hung over the Russian space programme since another manned mission in October was aborted in mid-flight. Both astronauts survived unharmed after an emergency landing.

Russia’s space agency Roscosmos has signed a deal with the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre to fly the first UAE astronaut to the ISS in 2019.

The “textbook launch”, as described by Nasa, saw the Soyuz rocket lift-off with American, Russian and Canadian astronauts on board.

A bent sensor pin caused during assembly was later found to be responsible for the problems with the separation of booster rockets on the Soyuz.

Roscosmos has pledged that the Emirati launch will definitely take place next year, although it has warned it is likely to be later than the April date originally scheduled.

“The schedule has been somewhat altered due to the Soyuz accident,” the head of the agency, Dimitry Rogozin said, in a statement to the official news agency TASS.

“But I think we will fulfil our obligations concerning the flight of an UAE national in 2019.”

Officials in the UAE have already expressed confidence in the Soyuz spacecraft.

Sultan Al Neyadi and Hazza al Mansouri have been training in Russia ahead one of a journey to the International Space Station in April.

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