Fri 23 September 2022:
Saudi Arabia has launched an astronaut programme, state news agency SPA reported today, with the first journey to space set for 2023 carrying the country’s first female astronaut.
The programme, launched by the Saudi Space Commission, will enable Saudi astronauts to conduct scientific experiments and research “for the betterment of humanity in priority areas such as health, sustainability and space technology”, the news agency said.
The Saudi Astronaut Program is part of the kingdom’s Vision2030 programme.
It added that “human space flights boost countries global leadership and competitiveness in areas such as science, engineering, and research and innovation.”Earlier this year it was revealed that the UAE will send an astronaut on a long-term mission to the International Space Station (ISS) next year, becoming the first Arab state to do so.
First female Arab astronaut
Saudi Arabia’s mission to the International Space Station next year aboard a SpaceX capsule will include a woman who would become the world’s first female Arab astronaut, according to Axiom Space, the US company arranging the mission for the Kingdom, Reuters reports.
Neither Axiom nor the Saudi government provided the name for the female astronaut, who will be accompanied by another Saudi and two Americans as part of Axiom’s second private mission to the space station, slated for early 2023.
A US official familiar with the mission said the Ax-2 passengers have yet to receive approval from a NASA-chaired panel of the Space Station’s international partners. Astronauts’ identities are not usually confirmed publicly until that panel provides approval.
Reuters first reported Axiom’s deal with Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, and that the mission is slated for early 2023, under a deal signed earlier this year.
SOURCE: INDEPENDENT PRESS AND NEWS AGENCIES
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