Saudi Arabia's First Female Astronaut Reaches ISS

In April of last year, SpaceX achieved a significant milestone by launching the inaugural all-private astronaut team to the International Space Station (ISS), receiving praise from industry executives and NASA.

On May 22, a SpaceX capsule successfully docked with the International Space Station (ISS), marking the arrival of the first Saudi Arabian female astronaut and three other crew members. This mission was organized by Axiom Space, a private company that charters spaceflights.

On Sunday, the Dragon capsule, launched by a Falcon rocket, departed from the Kennedy Space Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Its primary objective was to transport the crew members of Axiom Mission 2 (AX-2) for a weeklong expedition to the International Space Station (ISS).

The AX-2 mission, led by former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, encompasses a diverse team. Alongside Whitson, there are pilot John Shoffner and mission specialists Ali Alqarni and Rayyanah Barnawi from Saudi Arabia, who are participating as paying customers.

Rayyanah Barnawi reaches ISS

As a cancer stem-cell researcher, Barnawi, Saudi Arabia's pioneering female astronaut, embarks on a mission to the ISS with the goal of advancing breast cancer research. Following their arrival, the crew will proceed to open the hatch of the orbiting space station, engaging in research activities and scientific experiments.

Barnawi said, "Greetings from outer space, I'm here not only representing myself but representing the hopes and dreams of everyone back home, everyone in the region."

"It was a great launch, a great ride, we had a lot of fun on the way up, and we're really excited to get a lot of work done up here," he added.

"We really are excited to be here", expressed former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, who voyaged three times in the past.

"It was a great launch, a great ride, we had a lot of fun on the way up and we're really excited to get a lot of work done up here."

In response to the successful launch, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson conveyed his congratulations to Axiom, SpaceX, and the Axiom Mission 2 crew. He stated, "During their tenure aboard the International Space Station, the Ax-2 astronauts will conduct over 20 scientific experiments, contributing to our improved understanding of space radiation, weather patterns in low-gravity environments, and other related areas."

NASA’s commitment to space innovation

Additionally, Nelson emphasised the significance of this mission, highlighting NASA's dedication to assisting industry partners in the development of cutting-edge space technology and bolstering the expansion of a thriving commercial space economy. He remarked, "This mission serves as further evidence of NASA's commitment to supporting and advancing the next generation of space technology."