Saudi Arabia to send its first woman astronaut into Space

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A Saudi Arabian woman will become the first woman astronaut from the country to go on a space mission later this year, AFP reported.


Rayyana Barnawi will join fellow Saudi astronaut Ali Al-Qarni on a 10-day mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

Barnawi and Al-Qarni will fly to the ISS aboard a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft as part of a mission this spring by the private space company Axiom Space, according to Saudi Press Agency and Axiom. Peggy Whitson, a former NASA astronaut, will also be on board for her fourth flight to the ISS. Meanwhile, John Shoffner, a Tennessee businessman, will be the pilot.

Two other astronauts – Mariam Firdous and Ali Al-Ghamdi – will train in the Saudi human spaceflight program for all mission requirements.

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The crew will be launched into space by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Neighbouring United Arab Emirates had become the first Arab country to send woman astronaut Hazzaa al-Mansoori into space in 2019.

The decision to send Barnawi to the ISS comes as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s continues his push for lenient reforms for women, including allowing them to drive, travel abroad without a male guardian, and doubling their proportion in the workforce from 17 to 37 percent.

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