The International Space Station (ISS) will welcome Saudi Arabia’s first female astronaut, Rayyana Barnawi, later this year. She will be there for a duration of 10 days.
Michael Suffredini, CEO of Axiom Space, issued a statement in which he expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to be a part of this momentous occasion. “We are thrilled to be launching the first woman astronaut from Saudi Arabia into space and proud to be a part of this ground-breaking mission,” he added.
Ax-2 Program & Crewmates
Ali Al-Qarni, another Saudi national, will accompany Barnawi on the trip, which will be executed by the private space corporation Axiom Space as a part of its Ax-2 program.
A former NASA astronaut, Peggy Whitson, who will be on her fourth voyage to the ISS, and John Shoffner, a businessman from Tennessee who will act as the pilot, will also be a part of the Ax-2 crew.
SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will carry the astronauts to the ISS. It is currently present at Launch Complex 39A at NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
More astronauts in space from the middle east
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is following in the United Arab Emirates, which in 2019 made history by becoming the first Arab nation to launch a citizen into space. Astronaut Hazzaa al-Mansoori visited the International Space Station (ISS) for a total of 8 days, while another Emirati, Sultan al-Neyadi, is scheduled to go on a mission to the ISS by the end of this month.
Neyadi, who is 41 years old and has been given the nickname “Sultan of Space,” will be the first Arab astronaut to spend 6 months in orbit. He will be atop a Falcon 9 rocket bound for the International Space Station.
Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, an air force pilot and member of the Saudi royal family, became the first Arab Muslim to fly into space in 1985. He participated in a space mission arranged by the United States of America.
Prince Salman’s Vision 2030 agenda
As part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 initiative for the diversification of the Saudi Arabian economy, the country of Saudi Arabia established a space program in 2018, and the year before that, it began another program to send humans into space.
It is believed that the Saudi Arabian government made the decision to send a female astronaut into space as part of an effort to reform its reputation as an extremely conservative nation and to advance gender equality.
Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince, has been pushing for a number of changes in an effort to shed the image of the kingdom as being conservative. These measures include removing the restriction that prevents women from driving and enabling them to attend sports events.
The drive by the monarchy to diversify its economy, which is now dependent on oil, via a variety of initiatives has also been a prominent priority.
Barnawi’s selection for the mission
The selection of Barnawi for the mission marks an important step forward for Saudi Arabia’s space program and exemplifies the kingdom’s dedication to advancing gender equality. The statement has been welcomed with broad appreciation, and many people are applauding it as a great step forward for the nation.
Saudi Arabia to send its first woman astronaut into space!
Rayyanah Barnawi, 33, will be the first woman from Saudi Arabia to fly to the ISS.
In the last 3 years Saudi Arabia has an all-female F-15E pilot/crew
A female first officer commercial airline pilot pic.twitter.com/Tu8jKOyVfD
— J.J Ewuzie (@Jizew) February 15, 2023
Later on in the spring, the Ax-2 mission is scheduled to take place, and at that time, the crew will spend ten days onboard the ISS doing experiments and completing a variety of other activities.
The project represents a significant advancement for Saudi Arabia’s space program, and it is anticipated that its success will open the way for further key milestones in the years to come.