Saudi Arabia to send 1st female astronaut to International Space Station this year

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced Sunday that it will send its first female astronaut to the International Space Station during the second quarter of this year, reported Anadolu Agency.

In a statement, the Saudi Space Commission said Rayyanah Barnawi and Ali AlQarni will join the crew of the AX-2 space mission with a view to “empowering national capabilities in human spaceflight geared towards serving humanity and benefitting from the promising opportunities offered by the space industry.”

“The spaceflight is scheduled to launch from the USA to the International Space Station,” the statement said.

According to the space commission, the Saudi Human Spaceflight Programme includes the training of two more astronauts — Mariam Fardous and Ali AlGamdi — on all mission requirements.

Gulf countries have recently showed a growing interest in space exploration.

In December 2022, the Emirati space explorer Rashid Rover set off towards the moon on a Japanese spacecraft on a 5-month journey.

In September last year, the Saudi Space Commission launched the kingdom’s programme for astronauts, aiming at qualifying Saudi cadres for long- and short-term space flights, and participating in scientific experiments, international research, and future space-related missions. -Bernama