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University graduate returns to Earth after six month space mission

Dr Sultan al-Neyadi from the United Arab Emirates became the first person from the Arab world to spend an extended time in orbit during a six-month stint working 250 miles above the Earth.

Sultan, who graduated from Brighton University in 2004, blasted off from Kennedy Space Centre in Florida in March and returned to Earth this morning with three other astronauts.

During his time in space, Sultan congratulated 3,000 students at the University of Brighton for their graduation ceremony and captured Brighton from aboard the ISS.

In a social media post before his return to Earth, Sultan said: “Space, this is not a goodbye. I will see you later, whether on a new mission to the ISS or a farther destination.

“I thank my beloved country for turning our dreams into achievements and all of you for your trust and affection.”

Before departing the space station, the four astronauts returning home said they were craving hot showers, steaming cups of coffee and the ocean air.

Their homecoming was delayed by a day because of poor weather at the splashdown locations for their water landing. But they provided a spectacular middle-of-the-night show as the capsule streaked through the sky over Cape Canaveral toward a splashdown near Jacksonville in Florida.

The astronauts said it was incredible to be back.

A spokesman for the University of Brighton said: “Congratulations to Brighton graduate Sultan al-Neyadi who has returned to Earth following his record-breaking space mission.

“From the UAE to the UK to space, Sultan’s journey has inspired a new generation of our students to reach for the stars.”

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