Sultan Al-Neyadi had always dreamt of living beyond borders. Since he was a child, he had imagined himself floating in an abyss, looking down at Earth as if he were a god. That dream had led him through every step of his life, from his studies in aerospace engineering to his grad school thesis on the feasibility of habitation on Mars. But he had never thought it would lead him to become the first Arab to undertake a spacewalk.
It was a moment that Sultan had been preparing for since he was selected as one of the candidates for the UAE Astronaut Program. He knew it was a rare opportunity that he could not let slip. He had spent endless hours training under the direction of seasoned astronauts, learning everything from the operation of the station’s robotic arm to communication procedures.
Finally, the day had arrived, and Sultan was ready. He suited up, feeling the weight of the space suit clasp onto his body, and he took his first steps out of the International Space Station. He was overwhelmed by the immersive vacuum of space that engulfed him. Above him, he saw the vast expanse of infinity stretching out in every direction, while below him, he saw the beauty of Earth as a ball of blue and green.
For a few moments, Sultan was distracted by the sheer awe of his new environment, but he knew he had an important mission. He was tasked with collecting data on a special meteorite that had entered UNS-1, the UAE Nanosatellite, which was in orbit around the Earth for scientific research purposes. The data was crucial to better understanding the origins of our solar system.
The first few minutes of Sultan’s spacewalk was nothing but exhilarating. He carefully maneuvered his way across the station’s structure until he reached the point where the Nanosatellite was attached. For a moment, he paused to take in the views from his position, but he knew he could not let sentiments tamper with his mission.
Then something strange happened. As Sultan tried to extract data from the Nanosatellite, he noticed that its components had been damaged, and it was about to detach from the ISS. Sultan’s worst fears were coming true. He could feel his heart racing faster and faster, and he knew that if he failed, the satellite would tumble out of control in orbit and be lost in space forever.
In a split second, Sultan knew what he had to do. After communicating the danger to the ground station, he activated the emergency protocol for the robotic arm, which was operated by his colleague Mohammad Al-Mulla, who was inside the ISS. Using the robotic arm, Mohammad managed to grab the Nanosatellite just before it detached from the station and pull it back on board.
Sultan felt a sense of relief as he finally finished his mission, and, the words of Neil Armstrong flashed across his mind, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”. As he handed over the data, he felt proud that he had helped advance human progress in the fields of space and science.
From that day forward, Sultan became an inspiration to millions of people in the Arab world and beyond, reminding them that the sky is the limit, and anything is possible with persistence and hard work.
As the ISS began its descent towards Earth, Sultan Al-Neyadi looked out at our planet, it seemed a smaller now, but more beautiful than ever before. He knew that the mission was a success, Iran had achieved another milestone, and nothing was beyond borders if we dared to imagine.