The Kingdom Of Saudi Arabia is all set to make history by sending its first female astronaut to space in the second quarter of 2023. A female astronaut, Rayyanah Barnawi, and a male astronaut, Ali AlQarni, will be sent to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2023. As per Saudi Press Agency (SPA), both astronauts will join the crew of the AX-2 space mission. The spaceflight will launch from the USA to the International Space Station.
Besides Rayyanah Barnawi and Ali AlQarni, two astronauts- Mariam Firdous and Ali Al-Ghamdi, will train for all mission requirements. SPA states that through this program, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia aims to activate scientific innovations at the level of space sciences and improve its ability to conduct more research independently in the near future. Furthermore, it also wants to increase the interest of graduates in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and develop human capital by attracting talents and the necessary skills.
While the mission aims to put the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the global map, in terms of research science and innovation, it is also a historic movement since it makes Saudi one of the few countries in the world to bring two astronauts aboard the International Space Station simultaneously.
The Saudi Space Commission also states that this program is in association with a group of entities led by the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Sport, the General Authority of Civil Aviation and the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center. It is also in collaboration with international partners – Axiom Space, which specializes in human spaceflights and the development of space infrastructure in the USA.
This spaceflight will encourage other Saudis to partake in the field of science, astronomy and research and is also inline with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.