First Female Arab Astronaut Reaches ISS

Rayyanah Barnawi
Rayyanah Barnawi

Rayyanah Barnawi, the first Arab female astronaut to go to space has arrived at the ISS (International Space Station)

She is 34 years old and one of two Saudis on Axiom Space’s second private mission, which took off on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the US on last Sunday.

Rayyanah Barnawi is a biomedical scientist, During her scheduled 10 days in orbit on the International Space Station, she has plans to carry out stem cell and breast cancer research.

Rayyanah Barnawi

Her latest step to the International Space Station inspires women from all backgrounds in the Middle East.

‘To the people around the world, the future is very bright, I would like you to dream big, believe in yourselves and believe in humanity’. She proudly said In a video filmed in space just before she reached the International Space Station.

She joined on Axiom Mission-2 by fellow Saudi mission specialist Ali Alqarni, the second male astronaut from the Gulf kingdom to go to space, and two Americans, commander Peggy Whitson and pilot John Shoffner.

Rayyanah Barnawi

The crew travelled to space inside SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft, which sat atop the Falcon 9 rocket launched from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 21:37 GMT on last Sunday.

SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft docked autonomously with the International Space Station at 13:12 GMT on Monday, Axiom Space tweeted.

During their time in the orbiting laboratory, they will conduct more than 20 science and technology experiments, including the repercussions of space on human health and rain-seeding technology.

Ms Barnawi’s experiments will mostly be based on some of the work she has done over the past nine years as a research lab technician at the Stem Cell and Tissue Re-engineering Programme of King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre in Riyadh.

‘Becoming the first female Saudi astronaut to go to space was a great pleasure and honour that I’m very happy to carry, Being able to see their faces when they see astronauts from their own region for the first time is very thrilling’ she said at a news conference.

Rayyanah Barnawi

‘Our goals are to benefit all humanity through science, We hope this mission will inspire girls from various backgrounds in order to advance the human experience’, Mishaal Ashemimry, a Saudi-American aerospace engineer and adviser to the Saudi Space Commission said.

Women in Saudi Arabia only gained the right to drive in 2018, and human rights groups say male guardianship laws still limit women’s rights there.


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