11 Muslims Who Have Journeyed Into Space

For #WorldSpaceWeek we spotlight the 11 Muslims who have had the opportunity to go to space!

For #WorldSpaceWeek we spotlight the 11 Muslims who have had the opportunity to go to space!

Since space exploration became possible, 574 people have travelled to space from 41 different countries. Of these, 11 are Muslims.

Hazza al-Mansoori (United Arab Emirates)

Image source: BBC

Hazza Al Mansoori is an Emirati astronaut and the latest Muslim and first Emirati to go to space. In September of 2019, Al Mansoori blasted off on a six-hour journey to the International Space Station (ISS) on the Soyuz MS-15 spaceflight. Starting off as a fighter pilot for United Arab Emirates Armed Forces, Hazza became the youngest Emirati to fly an F-16. Out of over 4,000 applicants, Hazza was selected for the UAE Astronaut Programme. In April 2019, Hazza was selected to go on an eight-day mission to the ISS. Whilst there, Hazza took this incredible picture of the Holy Kaaba!

Image source: @astro_hazza

Aidyn Aimbetov (Kazakhstan)

Image source: Astana Times.

Aidyn Aimbetov, the third Kazakh and tenth Muslim astronaut, was launched into space from Kazakhstan on September 2, 2015 aboard Soyuz TMA-18M for a ten-day mission. He conducted environmental and geophysical monitoring in ecologically critical areas of Kazakhstan. An ecologically critical area is a location that is essential to the health of a particular ecosystem. These areas are usually large and complex, and they may support a wide range of plant and animal life. Therefore it is vital such areas are preserved. Aidyn’s mission lasted ten days. When asked about his experiences of being in space, Aidyn said:

Another unforgettable experience was the shooting stars. When you close your eyes you can see a shower of light flashes, dots and dashes. This effect is caused by heavy charged particles that are part of the cosmic rays that crisscross the galaxy. When these particles pass through the fundus of the eye through the retina, it is possible to see flashes without opening your eyes. It can only be observed in space.”

Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor (Malaysia)

Image source: First Classe.

Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor is the first Malaysian to venture out into space for yet another ten-day trip to the ISS where he performed experiments on board the ISS relating to the characteristics and growth of liver cancer and leukaemia cells. His trip coincided with Shahr Ramadan, which made him the first Muslim to fast and celebrate Eid in space! Here is Shukor demonstrating how he prayed.

Anousheh Ansari (Iran)

Image source: Science & Faith

Anousheh is the first female Muslim to explore the universe, as well as the only Iranian. Anousheh was originally a backup, but due to one of the crew members becoming disqualified on medical grounds, Anousheh was promoted to a first-team crew member. Anousheh, reflecting on her journey, says:

I hope to inspire everyone—especially young people, women, and young girls all over the world, and in Middle Eastern countries that do not provide women with the same opportunities as men—to not give up their dreams and to pursue them… It may seem impossible to them at times. But I believe they can realize their dreams if they keep it in their hearts, nurture it, and look for opportunities and make those opportunities happen.”

Salizhan Sharipov (Russia)

Salizhan has had the pleasure of visiting space on two separate occasions. Once in 1998 and again in 2004, spending a total of 201 days. Salizhan had been part of a crew delivering hardware and software to the Mir space station and has conducted several experiments for the Russian Space Program. Sharipov also walked in space for over 10 hours!

Talgat Musabayev (Kazakhstan)

Image source: Space Facts.

Talgat has spent 15 days short of a year in space across three different missions. Talgat is a flight engineer, which means he is responsible for monitoring and maintaining a spacecraft’s systems and vital statistics. He would have to check the status of the ship’s systems, perform experiments or maintenance tasks, and help operate the ship’s controls during manoeuvres. In the event of an emergency, the flight engineer would take charge of troubleshooting and problem-solving.

Toktar Aubakirov (Kazakhstan)

Image source: Astana Times.

Toktar was the first Kazakh to enter space. He was a test pilot who went to space for eight days on behalf of the Soviet Union, just before its collapse.

Abdul Ahad Mohmand (Afghanistan)

During his nine days stay on the Mir space station, Momand took photographs of his country, participated in astrophysical, medical and biological experiments – and treated his crew to traditional Afghan tea!

Musa Manarov (Azerbaijan)

Image source: Interpress AZ.

Musa spent an incredible 541 days in space across two different missions, spacewalking for approximately 20 hours.

Mohammad Faris (Syria)

Image source: The Famous People.

Faris was the second Muslim and first Syrian to go to space. He is credited with carrying the first recorded Earth dirt into space, which was a vial carrying soil from Damascus. He lived in Syria until the civil war and eventually found asylum in Turkey.

Sultan Bin Salman Al Saud (Saudi Arabia)

Image source: Step Feed

Sultan Bin Salman Al Saud is the first-ever Muslim and Arab to visit space in 1985 as a payload specialist. Payload specialists are astronauts who are trained to operate and conduct experiments on specific scientific missions. They are not career astronauts but rather scientists or engineers who have expertise in a specific area of research.

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