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Saudi Arabia plans to send the first woman into space in 2023

Saudi Arabia plans to send the first woman into space in 2023

Saudi Arabia has announced its intention to send a Saudi male and female astronaut to the International Space Station during the second quarter of this year. This is more than two years after an Emirati astronaut participated in a mission to the same station.

This will be the first time that a Saudi woman participates in a space flight.

The Kingdom established the Saudi Space Authority at the end of 2018 and launched the “Space Pioneers” program in September 2022, with the aim of sending Saudi astronauts into space in 2023.

On Sunday, the official Saudi Press Agency SPA quoted the authority as announcing, “Sending the first Saudi female and male astronauts to the International Space Station during the second quarter of the year 2023.”

It explained that astronaut Rayana Bernawi and astronaut Ali Al-Qarni will join the crew of a space mission organized by SpaceX, with the aim of “building national capabilities in the field of manned flights for the sake of humanity, and benefiting from the promising opportunities offered by the space sector and its industries globally.”

SPA stated that “the scientific flight will start from the United States of America to the International Space Station.”

The two Saudi astronauts, Maryam Firdous and Ali Al-Ghamdi will participate in the exercises, without being part of the actual mission.

Bernawi is the first Saudi female astronaut. Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, son of Saudi King Salman, was the first Saudi Arab astronaut to participate in a space flight. This was also launched in the US in 1985. But it is the first time two Saudis have participated in a trip to the International Space Station.

The International Space Station is a joint international project between five international space agencies belonging to the US, Russia, Japan, the European Union, and Canada. Private companies and governments organize commercial flights to it.

Space exploration is part of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s “Vision 2030” plan, which aims to develop the kingdom, diversify its economy, and end its dependence on oil.

HRH Prince Muhammad, the Saudi crown prince, oversaw a campaign of social reforms. This included easing restrictions imposed on women, allowing them to drive cars, and opening the labor market. They now drive trains, train for space flights, and work in sectors that were previously the preserve of men.

Saudi Arabia’s announcement comes just two weeks before the launch of an Emirati astronaut, Sultan Al Neyadi, on a six-month mission, which will mark the first long-term mission by an Arab.

The Emirati, Hazzaa Al-Mansoori, participated in a trip to the International Space Station on September 25, 2019, for eight days aboard the “Soyuz MS-15” spacecraft, which also transported the American Jessica Mir and the Russian Oleg Skripochka.

Despite its recent entry into the world of space exploration, the UAE is making rapid strides in this field. In February 2021, the Emirati probe “Hope” entered the orbit of Mars, becoming the first Arab country to reach the Red Planet.

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