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Saudi astronauts Rayyanah Barnawi and Ali al-Qarni send first greetings from space

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Saudi astronauts Rayyanah Barnawi and Ali al-Qarni sent their first message from space, greeting Saudi Arabia’s people and leadership as the Kingdom made history with sending the first ever Arab female astronaut to the International Space Station (ISS).

Barnawi and al-Qarni on Monday took off from a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket aboard a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft as part of the Axiom 2 space mission (Ax-2) to the ISS from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. They are joined by two other astronauts, Peggy Whitson and John Shoffner.

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“Hello from outer space, it feels amazing to be viewing earth from this capsule,” Barnawi said in the first on-Orbit crew flight status event. “We are here feeling microgravity thanks to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the leaders, King Salman and the visionary Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, [and] for their support in this mission,” Barnawi said, sending special regards to her family.



“To the people around the world, well the future is very bright. I would you like to dream big, believe in yourselves and believe in humanity,” she added.

For his part, al-Qarni said that this moment was “historic not just for me but for every Saudi, I couldn’t have done it without the support, the love [and] the trust from all of you.”

He expressed his gratitude to the Saudi King Salman and the Crown Prince for paving the way for this moment and for “their never-ending empowerment, support and trust that every Saudi should be proud of.”

“As I look outside into space, I cannot help but think that this is just the beginning of a great journey for all us,” he added.



The Ax-2 mission is scheduled to arrive at the ISS on Monday where the docking is scheduled for 9:24 a.m. ET, hatch opening at 11:13 a.m. ET and at 11:45 a.m. ET a crew welcome ceremony will be held.

With their journey to the ISS, Barnawi and al-Qarni will also join Emirati astronaut Sultan al-Neyadi, who is currently on the ISS for a six-month mission.



Barnawi and al-Qarni said last week that the fact that there will be three Arab astronauts onboard the ISS will send a message of inspiration and cooperation among Arabs.

Read more:

‘Lift off’: Saudi astronauts – including Arab world’s first female – blast into space

Saudi astronauts Rayyanah Barnawi and Ali al-Qarni ready, excited for space journey

Saudi astronauts to research cancer, cloud seeding, microgravity in space

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