First Saudi space mission to launch on May 21 with Kingdom’s first astronauts

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Saudi Arabia’s first space mission is scheduled to launch on May 21, with the Kingdom’s first ever astronauts Ali al-Qarni and Rayyanah Barnawi – the first Arab Muslim female astronaut – on board, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) confirmed on Sunday.

The two astronauts are set to travel to the International Space Station, the report said.


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The Saudi space mission, which marks a historical moment for the Kingdom, will launch from the United States.

NASA Space Operations had earlier this month said the mission would launch no later than May 21 after delays.

The astronauts will conduct 14 pioneering scientific experiments in microgravity that will help scientists and researchers devise new ways to provide suitable conditions for humans to further explore space, SPA reported.

The astronauts will also conduct three educational awareness experiments with 12,000 Saudi students via a live feed.

The results are expected to not only advance the Kingdom’s global position in space exploration, but also support Saudi research centers and have a scientific impact on future space exploration.

Once accomplished, the mission places the Kingdom as one of the few countries that will have had two astronauts simultaneously on board the International Space Station.

The Kingdom’s astronauts’ program was launched in September 2022 and falls under Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 goals to advance space research, according to SPA.

The program is designed to prepare future astronauts and engineers for space through quality educational and training programs, participation in scientific experiments, international research, and future space-related missions.

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