First Saudi Astronauts to Visit the ISS

First Saudi Astronauts to Visit the ISS
First Saudi Astronauts to Visit the ISS - Ax-2 crew members Peggy Whitson (far left), Rayyanah Barnawi, John Shoffner and Ali Al-Qarni attend training ahead of their anticipated journey to the International Space Station.

The first two Saudi astronauts to travel to the International Space Station (ISS) will travel on a special mission organized by Axiom Space, scheduled to launch from Florida on Sunday.

Breast cancer researcher Rayyanah Barnawi will fly into space for the first time as a Saudi and will be accompanied by fighter pilot Ali Al-Qarni.

The crew of Axiom Mission 2 (Ax-2) will launch at 17:37 (2137 GMT) on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral in southern Florida.

The crew consists of veteran NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, who will make her fourth voyage to the ISS, and Tennessee businessman John Shoffner, who will make the flight.

They are expected to spend about 13 days on the ISS, where they will land at 30:10 on Monday.

“Being the first Saudi female astronaut to represent the region is a great pleasure and honor that I am very happy to carry,” Barnawi said at a press conference recently.

He stated that he is excited about his work on the ship, as well as looking forward to sharing his time on the ISS with the children.

He said it was exciting to see how they reacted when they saw astronauts from their region for the first time.

A professional fighter pilot, Al-Qarni stated that he "always had a passion for exploring the unknown and simply admiring the sky and the stars."

It's a great opportunity for me to follow my dreams and maybe fly in space now. Saudi Arabia's entry into space is not the first.

An air force pilot named Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz participated in a US-led space mission in 1985.

But the Saudi woman's participation in the space mission represents the oil-rich Gulf country's latest effort to rid itself of its ultra-conservative reputation. In Saudi Arabia, women recently gained the privilege of driving.

The Saudi Space Commission was established in 2018, and the program to send astronauts into space was launched in 2017.

Experiments The four-man crew will perform 20 experiments while on the ISS.

One of them involves examining how stem cells behave in the absence of gravity.

As of now, there are seven people aboard the International Space Station (ISS): three Russians, three Americans, and Emirati astronaut Sultan al-Neyadi, who was the first person to spacewalk from the Arab world last month.

The second trip to the ISS will be undertaken by Axiom Space, a private space company that sells extraordinary journeys at prices that can reach millions of dollars, in collaboration with NASA, the key owner of the ISS.

The company is responsible for training the astronauts, renting their vehicles and making sure everything runs smoothly during their stay.

As part of Ax-1, three businessmen and former astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria spent 2022 days in orbit in April 17 as part of Axiom Space's first private astronaut mission to the ISS.

In zero gravity, some astronauts aboard the ISS at the time claimed that they had to sacrifice precious time from their days to take care of space tourists.

Compared to Mike Lopez-Alegria's time on the first trip, Whitson's schedule is actually much less constrained. I will be more available to support crew members when they need it.

These journeys represent Axiom Space's first step towards building its own space station, with the first module scheduled to launch in 2025.

The station will first connect to the ISS, then leave and re-enter orbit on its own.

NASA's plan to shut down the International Space Station (ISS) around 2030 and send astronauts to commercial stations that will house their customers has prompted a number of US space agencies to support the creation of the program.

Russia, which threatened to leave the International Space Station (ISS) earlier this year after Moscow's invasion of Ukraine and the deterioration of relations between Moscow and the West, agreed to extend the use of the ISS until 2028.

Other international partners such as the United States—Japan, Canada, and the European Space Agency—have also committed to continuing their activities by 2030.


Günceleme: 22/05/2023 12:55

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