Saudi's first female astronaut launches into space

Saudi's first female astronaut launches into space

Marking a historic moment in space travel, and for the Kingdom, the launch of the Axiom-2 mission to the International Space Station was successful
22 May 23
Rayyanah Barnawi Space Axiom 2 Image source: Instagram Saudi Space

In the early hours of May 22, Saudi Arabian national Rayyanah Barnawi became the very first Saudi woman and first Muslim woman to launch into space.

This mission marks the Kingdom's first foray into space in almost 40 years, making this lift off a milestone moment for space exploration and for the nation.

Barnawi will be joined by fellow Saudi space explorer Ali Al-Qarni: the two astronauts will serve as Mission Specialists for the AX-2 mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

As part of this privately funded mission to the ISS — referenced by NASA as 'Freedom' — Barnawi and Al Qarni will be joined by two American team members including Alaskan-born aviation specialist, John Shoffner who will serve as Mission Pilot and Peggy Whitson will act as Mission Commander for AX-2.

Rayyanah Barnawi

Expected to dock at the ISS Freedom at 7pm KSA time on Monday May 22 the Saudi twosome will join fellow Arab astronaut — Sultan al-Neyadi of the United Arab Emirates. Al-Neyadi is on a six-month mission on board the ISS. This will be the first time where two Arab nations will meet and be represented onboard the ISS at one time, another historical moment for the two Gulf countries.

Over the course of ten days, the team will conduct approximately 15 scientific experiments in micro-gravity — including how to generate artificial rain in the environment — as the mission continues to support the research and development of suitable and liveable conditions for further human space exploration.

We're looking forward to hearing more from the crew and learn more about their mission.