Despite living more than three months in space, UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi has maintained his health, as affirmed during the latest edition of “A Call from Space”.
This was a paramount concern during the event, which celebrated the Sultan of Space’s ongoing, record-breaking stint on the International Space Station (ISS).
Monitoring Health in Microgravity
In collaboration with the Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences (MBRU), the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) hosted the event, focusing on space medicine and astronaut health. Dr Hanan Al Suwaidi, the flight surgeon for the UAE Astronaut Programme, shared reassuring news about Al Neyadi’s health status.
The region’s only space flight surgeon, Dr Al Suwaidi, reported she has been carefully monitoring Al Neyadi’s health parameters, such as his weight, heart rate, and nutrient intake. So far, all values are within normal ranges, allaying any health concerns.
Rising to the Challenge
Notably, during a historic spacewalk on April 28, Al Neyadi’s oxygen saturation levels and heart rate were constantly monitored. The astronaut successfully endured this high-risk activity, demonstrating his robust health and fitness.
With a firm commitment to his exercise routine, Al Neyadi has maintained his muscle and bone strength. Thus, he is ensuring his well-being in the harsh conditions of space. He spends at least two-and-a-half hours every day exercising, engaging in activities such as cycling and even practising martial art jiu-jitsu, a first for an astronaut aboard the ISS.
Life in the Harsh Environment of Space
Answering questions from the medical community during the live call, Al Neyadi provided insights into living 400km above Earth. “Space is harsh… but we are trained to mitigate the symptoms and effects of microgravity on our health,” he explained.
On board the ISS, astronauts have access to a pharmacy and medical support from ground stations. Furthermore, they are equipped with procedures to assist an incapacitated crew member, if necessary.
Beyond Physical Health
Al Marri, director general of MBRSC, emphasised the importance of a healthy body and mind to thrive and survive in the enclosed environment of space, manage the pressure of work, and conduct science experiments. With support from teams at NASA, MBRSC, and MBRU, astronauts often return to Earth fitter than when they left, a promising prospect for Al Neyadi.
With half of his mission completed, Al Neyadi looks forward to a “science-heavy” second half. According to Adnan Al Rais, mission manager of the UAE Astronaut Programme, he will undertake scientific experiments assigned by UAE universities and host competitions for students.
Despite the unique and demanding circumstances, Al Neyadi’s health remains robust as he carries out the longest Arab space mission. His thriving health is a testament to the meticulous planning and support from the team on Earth. It highlighted the advances in space medicine. Additionally, it emphasised the importance of physical and mental fitness in overcoming the challenges of life in space.
Image Credit: NASA