Baikonur (Kazakhstan) (AFP)

Three astronauts, among them Hazza Al Mansouri, the first UAE citizen sent to space, took off Wednesday from the Russian cosmodrome of Baikonur, Kazakhstan, bound for the International Space Station (ISS).

The Soyuz ship carrying Hazza Al Mansouri, the American Jessica Meir and the Russian Oleg Skripochka took off unhindered at 13:57 GMT from the Kazakh steppes, according to images from the Russian space agency Roskosmos, for a journey of about six hours to at the international orbital station.

The Soyuz capsule, in which the three astronauts have taken place, has correctly separated from the rocket exactly 8 minutes and 48 seconds after takeoff, reaching the orbit that will allow it to join the ISS, Roskosmos said on Twitter.

The mooring of the capsule with the orbital station, on which there are already six men and women, is scheduled at 19:45 GMT.

Aged 35, Hazza Al Mansouri allows the UAE to join the small club of Arab countries that sent a man into space, second only to Saudi Arabia in 1985 and Syria in 1987.

This fighter pilot will also become the first astronaut of an Arab country to tread the ISS. The young man, whose participation in this flight was confirmed only very late, shared his "real honor" to participate in this mission, which causes an immense fervor to the Emirates.

During the traditional press conference on the eve of the take-off, he explained that his ambition was to "make this mission successful and come back with a lot of knowledge". "The dream has become a reality," he added, adding that he would retransmit and share his daily prayers with the Earth.

A 42-year-old biologist, Jessica Meir also begins, but Oleg Skripotchka has a long experience: he has already participated in two missions on the ISS, the first in October 2010, and spent a total of 159 days in space .

Hazza Al Mansouri will stay only eight days on the station: his return is scheduled on October 3 at the same time as the Russian Alexei Ovchinin and the American Nick Hague, who have been in weightlessness since March.

photo tbm / apo / glr

© 2019 AFP