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UAE space mission called off minutes ahead of blast-off 

February 27, 2023 at 12:29 pm

Rocket launche [Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images]

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-6 space mission, which included Emirati astronaut Sultan Al-Neyadi, has been called off minutes ahead of blast-off. The mission, which was to launch from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida as part of a six-month space mission to the International Space Station (ISS), was postponed due to an issue with ground systems, which is currently being investigated.

According to NASA, unfavourable weather conditions had delayed the launch, which is to be scheduled for Thursday. The decision to call off the launch was made “out of an abundance of caution,” said Kate Tice, a SpaceX systems engineer, in commentary on today’s webcast.

“The launch has been postponed, yet our ambitions remain high. Wishing a safe and successful mission to Emirati astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi and the entire Crew-6 team,” Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, said on Twitter.

The mission will be the seventh astronaut flight that SpaceX has carried out on behalf of NASA since 2020 and would be the second time that the UAE has sent an astronaut to space.

Less than an hour before the planned lift-off Al-Neyadi posted a heartfelt tweet stating: “On this planet, I leave behind everyone I love and take off to space.”

“I leave behind a country that has forged its way to stars and lit its path with Zayed’s Ambition. I leave you all behind until we meet again from space,” he said in reference to the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, the first president and founding father of the UAE.

Last night, Dubai’s iconic Burj Khalifa lit up ahead of today’s aborted launch, in tribute to Al-Neyadi’s “out-of-this-world” adventure.

READ: UAE launches Arab world’s first mission to the Moon