WATCH: Soyuz spacecraft carrying the UAE’s first astronaut Hazza Al-Mansoori dock with International Space Station

WATCH: Soyuz  spacecraft carrying the UAE’s first astronaut Hazza Al-Mansoori dock with International Space Station
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This photo provided by NASA astronaut Christina Koch shows the launch of a Russian Soyuz rocket, as seen from the International Space Station on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019. (Christina Koch/NASA via AP)
WATCH: Soyuz  spacecraft carrying the UAE’s first astronaut Hazza Al-Mansoori dock with International Space Station
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International Space Station (ISS) crew member, UAE astronaut Hazza Al-Mansoori waves as he boards the Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft before its blasts off for the ISS, on Wednesday at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. (AFP)
WATCH: Soyuz  spacecraft carrying the UAE’s first astronaut Hazza Al-Mansoori dock with International Space Station
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The Soyuz-FG rocket booster with Soyuz MS-15 space ship carrying a new crew to the International Space Station, ISS, blasts off at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019. The Russian rocket carries U.S. astronaut Jessica Meir, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka, and United Arab Emirates astronaut Hazza Al-Mmansoori. (AP)
WATCH: Soyuz  spacecraft carrying the UAE’s first astronaut Hazza Al-Mansoori dock with International Space Station
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the Soyuz MS-15 spaceship carrying a new crew to the International Space Station (ISS) streaks into the sky during liftoff at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome. (AP/Nasa)
WATCH: Soyuz  spacecraft carrying the UAE’s first astronaut Hazza Al-Mansoori dock with International Space Station
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The Soyuz-FG rocket booster with Soyuz MS-15 space ship carrying a new crew to the International Space Station, ISS, blasts off at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019. The Russian rocket carries U.S. astronaut Jessica Meir, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka, and United Arab Emirates astronaut Hazza Al-Mmansoori. (AP)
WATCH: Soyuz  spacecraft carrying the UAE’s first astronaut Hazza Al-Mansoori dock with International Space Station
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Members of the main crew to the International Space Station (ISS) (from L) United Arab Emirates' astronaut Hazza Al-Mansoori, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka and US astronaut Jessica Meir report to Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin (R) arrive to board a Soyuz rocket to the ISS, at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on September 25, 2019. (AFP)
WATCH: Soyuz  spacecraft carrying the UAE’s first astronaut Hazza Al-Mansoori dock with International Space Station
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Emiratis in Abu Dhabi watch a live broadcast of a Russian Soyuz MS-15, that took off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, carrying Emirati Astronaut Hazza Al-Mansoori and two other astronauts heading to the International Space Station. (AP)
WATCH: Soyuz  spacecraft carrying the UAE’s first astronaut Hazza Al-Mansoori dock with International Space Station
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People watch screens showing a Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft lifting off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan carrying 35-year-old Emirati astronaut Hazza Al-Mansoori to spend eight days aboard the International Space Station, at Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) in Dubai on September 25, 2019. (AFP)
WATCH: Soyuz  spacecraft carrying the UAE’s first astronaut Hazza Al-Mansoori dock with International Space Station
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Emirati astronaut Hazza Al Mansouri waves to people as he leaves his hotel for a pre-launch preparation at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Sept. 25, 2019. He’s the first Arab on the International Space Station. (Vyacheslav Oseledko/AFP)
WATCH: Soyuz  spacecraft carrying the UAE’s first astronaut Hazza Al-Mansoori dock with International Space Station
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Members of the main crew to the International Space Station (ISS), (From L) United Arab Emirates' astronaut Hazza Al Mansouri, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka and US astronaut Jessica Meir leave their hotel. (Vyacheslav Oseledko/AFP)
Updated 26 September 2019

WATCH: Soyuz spacecraft carrying the UAE’s first astronaut Hazza Al-Mansoori dock with International Space Station

WATCH: Soyuz  spacecraft carrying the UAE’s first astronaut Hazza Al-Mansoori dock with International Space Station
  • Abu Dhabi Crown Prince says Al-Mansoori has taken the UAE to new heights
  • The Soyuz docked with the ISS over the southern pacific after a six hour journey into space

 

MISSION CONTROL, Moscow: The Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft carrying the first Emirati astronaut docked with the International Space Station on Wednesday after launching into space six hours earlier from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Hazza Al-Mansoori from the UAE, Jessica Meir from the US and veteran Russian commander Oleg Skripochka, took off a few minutes before 5pm Saudi time (2pm GMT) to carry them to the International Space Station.

They docked with the ISS at 10:42 p.m. Saudi time (7:42 p.m. GMT) above the southern Pacific Ocean, and the hatch between the two will be opened about two hours later.

The team at the RKA Mission Control Center, located in Korolyov near Moscow, Russia, congratullated the three crew members on a successful and "simply amazing" docking.

Arab News witnessed an exciting day of action inside Mission Control, with a dramatic blast off earlier in teh day. Staff applauded as the spacecraft passed through its crucial phases and passed through the earth's upper atmosphere. 

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed said he was proud to see Al-Mansoori head towards the International Space Station taking the UAE to “new heights”.

Just hours ahead of the launch, Al-Mansoori tweeted that he was filled with an “indescribable feeling of glory.

“Today I carry the dreams and ambition of my country to a whole new dimension,” he said.

The center, which has an active control room for the International Space Station, checked the spacecraft’s trajectory until its successful docking about six hours after take off. Al-Mansoori’s watched the launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. 

In the UAE, Emiratis closely followed the launch, which was played on big screens in Dubai.

“We are very proud of him,” said an Emirati, who had driven with a friend from the emirate of Ajman to Dubai to watch the liftoff on a big screen at City Walk.  

The launch places the UAE’s first astronaut in space as part of the country’s ambitious space program, and he will be the Arab world’s third. The first, Saudi Prince Sultan bin Salman, travelled to space in 1985 aboard NASA’s Discovery space shuttle.




the Soyuz MS-15 spaceship carrying a new crew to the International Space Station (ISS) streaks into the sky during liftoff at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome. (AP/Nasa)

With the help of Russia's Roscosmos State Corporation for Space Activities’ “spaceflight participant” program, Al-Mansoori, along with a number of non-NASA astronauts, is being given a change to fly into space for a few days and participate in various scientific activities on the ISS.

Baikonur, built at the height of the Cold War in the 1950s, is a busy spaceport with numerous commercial, military and scientific missions being launched regularly. A partnership between NASA and the RKA and various other space agencies has seen the launch of many astronauts from there throughout the years. 




Emiratis in Abu Dhabi watch a live broadcast of a Russian Soyuz MS-15, that took off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, carrying Emirati Astronaut Hazza Al-Mansoori and two other astronauts heading to the International Space Station. (AP)

The number of international astronauts, with exception of the Chinese, riding the Soyuz rockets increased greatly in 2011 after the retirement of NASA’s space shuttle program, with countries shifting reliance to Russia to get their crew up to the ISS. 

The Russian Soyuz spacecraft and rockets are well-regarded for their ability to launch in about any weather, which was considered a hindrance with NASA’s space shuttles.

Russia’s space program long predates those of other space agencies. In fact, it kicked off the first space race by launching the world’s first satellite, Sputnik on Oct. 4, 1957.

On April 12, 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to travel into space, with his flight lasting 108 minutes as he circled the Earth for a little more than one orbit aboard the Vostok spacecraft.

When a Saudi went to space
Prince Sultan bin Salman speaks exclusively to Arab News about his 1985 NASA mission and how he became the first Arab, Muslim and royal in space

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Israel vaccinates 50% of its population against COVID-19

Israel vaccinates 50% of its population against COVID-19
Updated 52 min 23 sec ago

Israel vaccinates 50% of its population against COVID-19

Israel vaccinates 50% of its population against COVID-19
  • About 35 percent of Israel’s population had received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine

JERUSALEM: Israel has administered at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose to 50 percent of its 9.3 million population, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said on Friday.
Israel counts East Jerusalem Palestinians, who have been included in the vaccine campaign that began on Dec 19, as part of its population. Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip are not part of the Israeli campaign.
Edelstein said 35 percent of Israel’s population had received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine, putting them on course to receive a so-called “Green Pass” with access to leisure sites that the country has been gradually reopening.


Libya’s new PM delays naming Cabinet as deadline looms

Libya’s new PM delays naming Cabinet as deadline looms
Updated 26 February 2021

Libya’s new PM delays naming Cabinet as deadline looms

Libya’s new PM delays naming Cabinet as deadline looms
  • Appointing the Cabinet is part of a UN-backed transitional roadmap
  • Since 2015, Libyan state institutions have been divided between two administrations

CAIRO: Libya’s newly-elected prime minister failed to name members of a much-anticipated Cabinet ahead of an expected deadline Thursday, raising questions over whether his transitional government can unite Libya’s factions.
Prime Minister designate Abdul Hamid Mohammed Dbeibah was set to announce his Cabinet in a news conference from the capital, Tripoli, and send it to Libya’s House of Representatives for approval.
Instead, Dbeibah told reporters he only shared with Libyan lawmakers proposed guidelines for the selection of Cabinet members and an outline of his priorities in the coming period.
Appointing the Cabinet is part of a UN-backed transitional roadmap, which envisages holding general elections in the war-torn North African country by the end of the year.
Since 2015, Libyan state institutions have been divided between two administrations: One in the east and another in the west, each supported by a vast array of militias and foreign governments.
“We are ready to submit the names (of Cabinet ministers) but we should consult among ourselves and examine candidate names meticulously,” Dbeibah told reporters in Tripoli without specifying when he will actually make the submission.
Dbeibah said he envisages a Cabinet of technocrats who would represent Libya’s different geographic areas and social segments.
“These are critical times and we are taking into consideration that the Cabinet must genuinely achieve national unity and seek consensus and reconciliation,” he said.
He added that the country’s sovereign ministerial portfolios should be equally divided between candidates from Libya’s three key geographic areas in the east, the west and the south.
Earlier this month, Dbeibah was elected as prime minister by Libyan delegates at a UN-sponsored conference near Geneva.
The 75-member Libyan Political Dialogue Forum also elected a three-member Presidential Council, which along with Dbeibah should lead the country through general elections on December 24. Mohammad Younes Menfi, a Libyan diplomat from the country’s east, was selected as chairman of the council.


Bahrain introduces fifth vaccine, extends COVID-19 safety measures

Bahrain introduces fifth vaccine, extends COVID-19 safety measures
Updated 26 February 2021

Bahrain introduces fifth vaccine, extends COVID-19 safety measures

Bahrain introduces fifth vaccine, extends COVID-19 safety measures
  • The Janssen Covid-19 Vaccine will be the fifth vaccine authorized in Bahrain in the fight against the spread of COVID-19
  • The announcement comes as the Government Executive Committee extended precautionary measures

DUBAI: Bahrain’s National Health Regulatory Authority (NHRA) has authorized the use of Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine for coronavirus the Bahrain News Agency reported on Friday.

The Janssen Covid-19 Vaccine will be the fifth vaccine authorized in Bahrain in the fight against the spread of COVID-19 and will be given to those most at risk, suchas the elderly, people with chronic diseases and other groups identified by the Health Ministry.

The announcement comes as the Government Executive Committee extended precautionary measures, aimed at slowing the spread of the virus, for an additional three months.

The measures involve the continued enforcement of  social distancing and screening of people at commercial and industrial premises for a further three months.


Oman extends COVID-19 safety measures, closes parks, beaches, leisure areas indefinitely

Oman extends COVID-19 safety measures, closes parks, beaches, leisure areas indefinitely
Updated 26 February 2021

Oman extends COVID-19 safety measures, closes parks, beaches, leisure areas indefinitely

Oman extends COVID-19 safety measures, closes parks, beaches, leisure areas indefinitely
  • Three Omani citizens convicted of violating coronavirus safety protocols

DUBAI: Oman’s Supreme Committee supervising the country’s coronavirus response has extended indefinitely the closure of beaches, public parks and leisure spaces to curb the spread of the highly contagious disease.

It reiterated the ban on indoor gatherings in resthouses, farms and winter camps, state news agency ONA reported, citing the high risk of coronavirus transmission in closed spaces.

In the North A’Sharqiyah governorate, the Supreme Committee has extended the shortened business operating hours with commercial activities required to close from 7 p.m. until 6 a.m..

Petrol stations, health establishments and private pharmacies are exempt from the updated regulation.

The latest regulations were issued as the Sultanate’s coronavirus cases reached 140,588 with 29 new patients hospitalized overnight. The total number of COVID-19 related death cases is at 1,562.

Meanwhile, three Omani citizens have been convicted of violating coronavirus safety protocols and separately fined $2,000 and sentenced to a three-month imprisonment.

“Primary Courts in the governorates of North Al Batinah and Dhofar issued penal verdicts convicting three citizens who breached decisions of the Supreme Committee” particularly non-compliance with the institutional quarantine and for not wearing a mask, ONA said in a separate report.


2 US Navy warships in the Middle East affected by coronavirus

2 US Navy warships in the Middle East affected by coronavirus
Updated 26 February 2021

2 US Navy warships in the Middle East affected by coronavirus

2 US Navy warships in the Middle East affected by coronavirus
  • The 5th Fleet patrols the waterways of the Middle East

DUBAI: Two US Navy warships operating in the Middle East have been affected by the coronavirus, authorities said Friday, with one already at port in Bahrain and another heading there now.
A dozen troops aboard the USS San Diego, an amphibious transport dock, tested positive for COVID-19, said Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich, a spokeswoman for the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet. The ship is at port in Bahrain.
“All positive cases have been isolated on board, and the ship remains in a restricted COVID bubble,” Rebarich said. “The port visit and medical support have been coordinated with the host nation government and Bahrain Ministry of Health.”
The second ship, the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea, has “several persons under investigation” for possible coronavirus infections, Rebarich said. The ship is expected to pull into port for further testing at a port she declined to name, citing “operational security.”
The San Diego has a capacity to carry nearly 700 personnel, while the Philippine Sea can carry over 300.
The 5th Fleet patrols the waterways of the Middle East. Its vessels often have tense encounters with Iran in the Arabian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Gulf through which 20 percent of all oil traded worldwide passes.