Now Reading
WOW! BLAST OFF! UAE school children to have live lessons from Emirati astronaut from space in UAE, NASA and SPACEX First

UAE school children will have the chance to meet and interact with Emirati astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi through a weekly series of video broadcasts during his six-month stay at the International Space Station, as part of a new educational programme created in partnership between the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre and the Emirates Literature Foundation: ELF in Space.

The ELF in Space programme was announced at the launch of the 2023 Emirates Airline Literature Festival.
L-R Dr Saeed Mubarak bin Kharbash, H.E. Salem AlMarri, Nadia Verjee, Isobel Abulhoul, Boutros Boutros

Designed to inspire young people to become interested in space exploration and encourage a love of technology and innovation, a dedicated website for Elf in Space will launch shortly, and will be full of fun and engaging facts, trivia and history to entice and stimulate students, said Isobel Abulhoul, CEO and trustee of the Emirates Literature Foundation, at the launch of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature today at the Mohammed Bin Rashid library.

Al Neyadi is set to blast off for the International Space Station in a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft on February 26 2023, after which teachers and their students will be able to tune into a broadcast straight from space every Thursday morning. Some of the broadcasts will be live streams, some will be pre-recorded, but they will all be designed to deliver first-hand reports of what it is really like to eat, sleep, breathe and work from zero gravity.

The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft, named Endeavour, on top of a Falcon 9 rocket, will carry the UAE astronaut and Mission Specialist Sultan Al Neyadi, along with two NASA astronauts, Mission Commander Stephen Bowen, and Pilot Warren Hoburg, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev.

UAE UAE astronaut and Mission Specialist Sultan Al Neyadi on the right, with his colleagues for the upcoming mission, which will send educational broadcasts to UAE school children

An inspiring marriage of Science and Literature

The UAE’s pioneering spirit and commitment to achieving the seemingly impossible is behind the ELF in Space initiative, which the founders hope will help inspire budding young scientists, as well as highlight the importance of books as the conduit and inspiration for new ideas and meaningful conversation.

Commenting on the programme, H.E. Salem Al Marri, Director General, Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) said:


“The launch of ‘Emirates Literature Foundation (ELF) in space’ is in line with MBRSC’s primary objective of building a new generation of scientists, researchers and talent capable of contributing to the UAE’s rapidly growing space sector.

“Through its various programmes, the Emirates Airline Literature Festival has inspired and empowered the young and the old to embrace the written word, explore new ideas and engage in meaningful conversation. Reading is also the key to the development of education, research and development, and lifelong learning and expanding our horizons.

“These of course are all essential to developing a space programme, which is why this partnership is vital to us.

“ELF will be a key partner to our next human spaceflight mission, and will support all educational content for astronaut Sultan Al Nayadi throughout his six-month in-orbit stay at the International Space Station.

Official Portrait of United Arab Emirates astronaut, Sultan AlNeyadi

“I believe this initiative will support in building a new generation of scientists, researchers, dreamers and talent capable of contributing to the UAE’s rapidly growing space programme.

“It will provide a unique platform to engage, excite and educate students with the astronaut Sultan Al Nayadi.

“As the future leaders and innovators of our future world, young learners have a crucial role to play in shaping the future of space exploration and discovery. By engaging with them through fun, interactive and educational ELF In Space, we have this opportunity to inspire and ignite curiosity, foster creativity, and equip them with the skills and knowledge necessary to tackle the challenges of tomorrow.”

Of the new educational ELF In Space platform, Isobel Abulhoul OBE, CEO and trustee of the Emirates Literature Foundation said:

“It should become a really good education resource, and it will be in both Arabic and English. All of the sessions with he astronaut will be subtitled between Arabic and English too, so language is not a barrier.

“We also plan to have quite a few authors speaking to astronaut Sultan, so there will be that interaction as well. We are trying to interest children in space through not just books, but in a fun and entertaining way.”

UAE astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi will broadcast educational videos to UAE school children from space

STEAM dreams and jet packs

There’s no doubt that interacting with a real-life astronaut and getting first-hand reports from space itself is sure to ignite some excitement in UAE school children.

The enthusiasm of Al Neyadi himself is infectious, and his words convey a palpable excitement about his upcoming space mission:

“The idea of waking up every morning and having access to a window like the Cupola, where one can scan the entire world in 90 minutes, is amazing, and I believe it is literally out of this world.”

The cupola is a small module designed for the observation of operations outside the station such as robotic activities, the approach of vehicles, and spacewalks. Its six side windows and a direct nadir viewing window provide spectacular views of Earth and celestial objects.

“The trip to space by Hazzaa Al Mansoori [the first UAE astronaut in space] marked the UAE’s consistent presence in space. Our Prime Minister promised to continue these flights, and now we’re talking about the second mission to the International Space Station. This time we raised the bar to six months, and we now have two additional astronauts training with the class of ’23.

“I would also love to see a UAE flag on the lunar surface, carried on the shoulder of a UAE astronaut. UAE is doing an excellent job, and I believe that in the next ten years, we will be following international efforts to go to space and push the boundaries of exploration.”

A view of space from the International Space Station

Is your student or child interested in the power of STEAM to make dreams come true? Find out about the SchoolsCompared Top Schools Awards challenge to create your own jet pack, as part of our award for the Best School for STEAM – celebrating the power of science, technology, engineering, maths and – importantly – the arts, for encouraging innovation and inspiring young minds.

Johnathan Westley, Managing Editor of SchoolsCompared, discussing with a Safa Community School Dubai student the development of a Jet Pack enabling children to fly as part of the 2023 Top Schools Awards. The student eloquently and inspirationally represented the investment by Safa Community School Dubai in young women and Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics.

© A WhichMedia Group publication. 2023. All rights reserved.

About The Author
Tabitha Barda
Tabitha Barda is the Senior Editor of Oxbridge educated and an award winning journalist in the UAE for more than a decade, Tabitha is one of the region's shining lights in all that is education in the emirates. A mum herself, she is passionate about helping parents - and finding the stories in education that deserve telling. She is responsible for the busy 24x7 News Desk, our Advisory Boards and Specialist Panels - and's The School's Report - the global weekly round up of what matters in education for parents which is published every Friday, reviewing schools across the UAE - and features on issues that really matter. You can often find Tabitha on Parents United - our Facebook community board, discussing the latest schools and education issues with our parent community in the UAE - and beyond.

Leave a Reply