Saudi Arabia made history on Sunday as its first female astronaut, Rayyanah Barnawi, and her colleague Ali Al-Qarni launched toward the International Space Station (ISS).
The duo were on board the Axiom Space 2 mission, which launched at 5:37 p.m. (EDT time). Astronaut Peggy Whitson and business pioneer and pilot John Shoffner are also part of the mission.
Before the launch, Barnawi, a breast cancer researcher, expressed her excitement and honor at representing Saudi Arabia and the Saudi Space Commission as the country's first female astronaut. She highlighted her passion for research and described the opportunity as a dream come true for everyone involved.
During their eight-day stay on the ISS, Whitson, Shoffner, Al-Qarni, and Barnawi aim to conduct 20 research projects. Among them are 14 projects developed by Saudi scientists, covering various areas such as human physiology, cell biology, and technology development.
The launch was with a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, and had a backup launch opportunity scheduled on Monday at 5:14 p.m in case of a launch failure.
It’s the same spot where Saudi Arabia’s first astronaut, Prince Sultan bin Salman, soared in 1985.
On Saturday astronaut Al-Qarni shared pictures on his Twitter account the contents of his space travel bag.