Giant leap for Kingdom: Saudi astronauts make history as they enter ISS

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Saudi Arabian astronauts Rayyanah Barnawi and Ali al-Qarni entered on Monday the International Space Station, making history as the Kingdom’s first nationals – and the first ever Arab woman – to foray into space in almost four decades.

The SpaceX Dragon capsule – carrying four astronauts and one furry friend – arrived at the ISS after completing a 17-hour orbital chase and docked with the station.

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A livestream was made available for viewers to watch the historic moments live.

The hatch is scheduled to open at 11:13 a.m. ET, after which a welcome ceremony for the arriving crew will be held at 11:45 a.m. ET.

The space crew includes two Saudi astronauts, Rayyanah Barnawi and Ali al-Qarni.

The Kingdom’s first space mission is “just the start” for Saudi Arabia’s visionary ambitions into space, a spokesman for the Saudi Space Center said before lift-off on Sunday.

The mission will make Saudi Arabia the first nation not part of the official International Space Station partnership to have two astronauts aboard the ISS at the same time.

During their mission, Barnawi and al-Qarni will join Americans Peggy Whitson, the commander of the trip, and pilot John Shoffner in conducting 20 experiments, including research into predicting and preventing cancer and a study into how to generate artificial rain in future human settlements on the Moon and Mars.

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