Saudi Arabia will send its first ever woman astronaut, Rayyana Barnawi on a space mission later this year in the latest development aimed at changing the Islamic kingdom’s conservative image.
Barnawi will join fellow Saudi male astronaut Ali Al-Qarni on a mission to the International Space Station (ISS) during the second quarter of 2023, the official Saudi Press Agency revealed in a statement.
According to Arabian News, the astronauts will join the crew of the AX-2 space mission and the space flight will launch from the USA.
Saudi Arabia joins neighbouring United Arab Emirates who became the first Arab country to send one of its citizens into space in 2019.
At the time, astronaut Hazzaa al-Mansoori spent eight days on the International Space Station. Another fellow Emirati, Sultan al-Neyadi, will also make a voyage later this month.
The 41-year-old Neyadi nicknamed Sultan of Space will emerge as the first Arab astronaut to spend six months in space when he blasts off for the ISS aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.