Tintin in space – for real!

UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi has been spending his spare time on the International Space Station reading the stories of his favourite comic character, Tintin, sharing an image of reading Explorers on the Moon on Twitter.

UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi reads The Adventures of Tintin abo the International Space Station. Photo: Sultan Al Neyadi / Twitter
UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi reads The Adventures of Tintin abo the International Space Station. Photo: Sultan Al Neyadi / Twitter

Before 43-year-old Dr Al Neyadi headed to the ISS back in March for his six-month mission, he said he would be taking the comics with him.

“One of the comics I read on the ISS is that of Tintin,” he tweeted at the weekend, “a visionary series that was originally written in the 1950s that dreamt of space travel even before humanity took its first leap into orbit.”

Tintin’s space adventures were spread across two adventures by his creator, Hergé – Destination Moon and Explorers on the Moon, initially serialised weekly in Belgium’s Tintin magazine, from March to September 1950 and April to October 1952, before being published in a collected volume by Casterman in 1953. The stories were later adapted for animation and radio.

Tintin - Destination Moon

Both stories were last released in English as a collection by Little Brown in a 128-page edition in 2019, Tintin on the Moon, still available from bookshops.

Dr Al Neyadi posted an image of himself reading the comics, with miniature figurines of Tintin in a spacesuit and the rocket portrayed in the books floating in the background.

While not reading Tintin, Dr Neyadi, the second Emirati astronaut to go to space, following in the footsteps of Hazza Al Mansouri, has a busy schedule aboard the ISS, that includes maintenance work, scientific experiments, photography and outreach activities. He carried out the first spacewalk by an Arab astronaut in April, when he ventured outside the ISS for a gruelling seven-hour maintenance assignment.

Dr Al Neyadi is expected to return to Earth next month. You can follow him on Twitter @astro_alneyadi

This isn’t Tintin’s first brush with a space project, of course, by any means. Marking the Apollo 11 Moon landings in July 1969, Hergé produced an illustration in which NASA astronaut Neil Armstrong has just arrived on the Moon, only to be greeted by Tintin, Snowy, Haddock, and Calculus carrying roses and a sign welcoming him.

That same year, the French magazine Paris Match commissioned Hergé to produce a short comic documenting the Apollo 12 landings, published in Issue 1073, and included in Ils Ont Marché Sur La Lune – de la Fiction à la Réalité, (“They Walked on the Moon – The Fiction and the Reality”) published by Casterman, a book detailing the research that went into the Tintin lunar stories, as well as the science behind the actual moon landings.

A copy of is currently being offere on eBay by a seller in Belgium, for €90 (£78). Do note customs charges may apply to a successful bidder living outside the European Union.

Tintin on the Moon is still available from bookshops. (AmazonUK Affiliate Link)

Tintin.com: Official Guide to Destination Moon | Wikipedia

Tintin.com: Official Guide to Explorers on the Moon | Wikipedia

Tintin © Hergé / Tintinimaginatio

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