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Emirati Astronauts Share Firsthand Accounts with Potomac Students

On March 7, Emirati astronauts Hazzaa AlMansoori and Sultan Al Neyadi visited The Potomac School ahead of meetings in Washington, D.C. Students in grades K-8 heard firsthand accounts of their space missions. AlMansoori was the first Emirati to go to space, traveling to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2019, while Al Neyadi took part in the UAE’s second mission to the ISS in 2023. Al Neyadi was the first Arab to serve on the ISS for a long-duration mission.

Al Neyadi told students how space unites us to give us new knowledge, sharing that, “The UAE has been collaborating with NASA for years, gaining valuable experience, building strong friendships, and working towards common goals together."

Al Neyadi and AlMansoori responded to questions from students, shared personal videos from space, and offered detailed accounts of their experiences. Students inquired about how their bodies adjusted upon their return to Earth, what inspired them to pursue careers as astronauts, where they slept, and more.

“Their personal reflections brought the wonder of space exploration to life and undoubtedly sparked a fire of curiosity. We are incredibly grateful to Emirati astronauts Sultan Al Neyadi and Hazzaa AlMansoori for giving Potomac students this rare opportunity to connect,” shares Head of School John Kowalik.

While speaking to students, AlMansoori reflected on the experiments and training, the challenges of living in Russia’s freezing temperatures, learning a new language, being cut off from family, and missing certain foods. He said that he wanted to be an astronaut since he was a child and that he came from a country that “did not know the meaning of the word impossible.”

Following their time at Potomac, the astronauts were joined by representatives from the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for meetings in Washington, D.C. According to a press statement from the UAE Embassy (D.C.), the forum was to celebrate the “shared commitment to expand cooperation and advance scientific and technical collaboration in the fields of human space exploration and aeronautics research.”

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