Saudi Arabia to send its 1st female astronaut to space this year
Saudi Arabia's first female astronaut is set to go into space this year, in what is seen as a move to reform Saudi Arabia's ultra-conservative image.
An overview of the news
Saudi female astronaut Rayna Barnawi will join Saudi Ali Al-Qarni on a 10-day mission to the International Space Station (ISS) this year.
Barnawi and al-Karni will fly to the ISS aboard a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft as part of a mission by American privately funded space infrastructure developer private space company Axiom Space .
The Ax-2 will be launched by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, America.
Another fellow Emirati, Sultan Al-Neyadi will also visit the space station at the end of February 2023.
Axiom Space launched its first private astronaut mission to the ISS in April 2022, with four private astronauts spending 17 days in space orbit.
In 2019, Saudi Arabia's neighbouring United Arab Emirates became the first Arab country to send a citizen into space. Astronaut Hazza al-Mansoori spent eight days on the ISS.
In 1985, Saudi royal prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz participated in a US-organised space mission, becoming the first Arab Muslim to travel in space.
King - Salman
Capital - Riyadh
Currency - Saudi Arabian riyal
Official Language - Arabic
Official Religion - Islam
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