Rayyanah Barnawi will become the first woman astronaut from Saudi Arabia

NASA has approved the crew list of the Ax-2 commercial space mission. The astronauts included Rayyanah Barnawi. She will be the first Saudi citizen in history to travel to space. 

The crew of the Ax-2 mission. From left to right, Peggy Whitson, John Shoffner, Ali Alqarni, Rayyanah Barnawi. Source: Axiom Space

The Ax-2 mission will be organized by Axiom. At the moment, it has one commercial expedition on its account, which visited the ISS in April 2022. In addition, the company received a NASA contract for the construction of commercial modules. Initially, they will become part of a commercial segment of the ISS, and after the termination of operation of the complex, they will separate from it and form a separate orbital station.

As for the Ax-2 mission, it will go to the ISS in the second quarter of 2023. It will include four astronauts:

  • Peggy Whitson (Mission Commander) is a former NASA astronaut and the first female commander of the ISS. In total, she made three flights into space. After leaving NASA, Whitson took up the position of head of the manned space flight program at Axiom.
  • John Shoffner (pilot) is an entrepreneur, pilot and professional racing driver, GT3 series circuit racing champion.
  • Ali Alqarni (Mission Specialist) is a pilot of the Royal Saudi Air Force. During his service, he flew a total of over 2,300 hours, he has a bachelor’s degree in aviation sciences.
  • Rayyanah Barnawi (Mission Specialist) — Master of Biomedical Sciences. She specializes in cancer and stem cell research.

According to experts, the inclusion of Rayyanah Barnawi in the Ax-2 mission is an important step in the strategy of the Saudi authorities to modernize and reform the kingdom. Within its framework, they are trying to diversify the country’s economy and get rid of its image as an ultraconservative society in which women’s rights are seriously infringed.

According to https://www.nasa.gov

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