Friday, June 9, 2023

SpaceX sends first Saudi woman to space

Rayyanah Barnawi, a stem cell researcher, became the first Saudi Arabian woman to travel to space on Sunday.

• May 22, 2023
Rayyanah Barnawi
Rayyanah Barnawi [Credit: Vogue Arabia]

Rayyanah Barnawi, a stem cell researcher, became the first Saudi Arabian woman to travel to space on Sunday.

The ticket-holding crew was launched by SpaceX and led by a retired NASA astronaut who now works for Axiom Space, the firm that planned the flight from Kennedy Space Centre. 

A U.S. billionaire, who owns a sports car racing team, also joined the trip.

The crew of Saudi-Arabian astronauts are the first citizens of their country to ride a rocket since a Saudi ruler launched the shuttle Discovery in 1985.

Ali al-Qarni, a fighter pilot from the Royal Saudi Air Force, accompanied Ms Barnawi on the trip.

The crew will spend less than a week on the space station and then return to earth with a splashdown off the coast of Florida, expected to arrive at the space station Monday morning.

“Hello from outer space! It feels amazing to be viewing the earth from this capsule,” Ms Barnawi said.

The trip is the second private journey to the space station organised by Axiom. 

A senior NASA astronaut, three businessmen, and three others completed the first last year.

Axiom did not indicate how much Shoffner and Saudi Arabia would pay for the 10-day expedition. The business earlier stated that the tickets would cost $55 million each.

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