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A special space mission will be launched on Sunday with the first two Saudis, one of whom is a woman


A special mission organized by the “Axiom Space” company will launch Sunday to the International Space Station, with the first two Saudis, one of whom is a woman, who will go to this flying laboratory.

The “Falcon 9” missile, produced by “SpaceX”, carrying Rayana Barnawi and Ali Al-Qarni, is launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA. The crew also includes Peggy Whitson, a former astronaut at the US Space Agency (NASA), who went to the International Station three times. By and will lead the mission, and American businessman John Choffner, who will lead the vehicle. This crew will spend ten days aboard the International Space Station, which is expected to arrive on Monday around 13:30 GMT.

“It is a great pleasure and honor for me to be the first Saudi female astronaut and to represent the region,” Rayana Bernawi, who studied science, said in a press conference this week.

Bernawi confirmed that she is excited to talk to children from the International Space Station, and said: “Seeing their faces when they see astronauts from their area for the first time is very interesting.”

In his ordinary life, Ali Al-Qarni works as a military pilot, and he said: “I have always had a passion for exploring the unknown and contemplating the sky and the stars… This is a wonderful opportunity for me to pursue this passion and to fly among the stars this time.”

Saudi Arabia sent one of its citizens into space in the past, while Saudi Prince Sultan bin Salman participated in an American mission in 1985, but this new space flight is part of the kingdom’s conservative strategy to improve the country’s image. The kingdom established the Saudi Space Authority in 2018 and last year launched a program to send astronauts into space.

Scientific experiments

The four crew members are supposed to conduct about twenty experiments during their stay, one of which is to study the behavior of stem cells in weightlessness. They will join the seven astronauts aboard the International Space Station, three Russians, three Americans, and Emirati astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi, who last month became the first Arab citizen to walk in space.

This mission, called “AX-2”, is the second to emerge from a partnership between the US space agency and “Axiom Space”, which provides similar space flights for millions of dollars. The company trains novice astronauts, rents transportation and facilitates their stay. in the space.

A first mission called “AX-1” (Ax-1) transported in April 2022 three businessmen and a former astronaut, Michael Lopez-Alegria, to spend two weeks on the International Space Station. Some of the astronauts on the International Space Station indicated that they had to devote some of their precious time to caring for these tourists.

private satellite stations

For Axiom Space, these missions constitute a first step towards its ambitious goal of building its own space station, which is supposed to launch its prototype at the end of 2025, and its structure will be connected to the International Space Station, before it is separated from it and becomes independent.

NASA intends to stop working on the International Space Station by 2030, and send its astronauts to private stations, and therefore provides its encouragement to the programs of many companies.

Russia finally pledged to extend the period of work on the International Space Station until 2028, after it threatened to withdraw from it after the start of the war in Ukraine, which raised questions about the continuation of the station.

Like the United States, the station’s other international partners, Japan, Canada and the European Space Agency, are committed to continuing operations on the International Space Station through 2030.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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