Two Saudi astronauts set to fly to International Space Station

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Shillong, May 21: The first two Saudi astronauts to travel to the International Space Station (ISS) will fly on a private mission organised by Axiom Space that is scheduled to launch from Florida on Sunday.

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

At 5.37 pm, the Axiom Mission 2 (Ax-2) crew will launch from Cape Canaveral in the southern state of Florida on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Peggy Whitson, a veteran NASA astronaut who will be making her fourth trip to the ISS, and Tennessee businessman John Shoffner, who will fly, round out the crew.

They are expected to spend around 10 days aboard the ISS, where they should touch down on Monday at 1.30 pm.

At a recent news conference, Barnawi remarked, “Being the first Saudi woman astronaut, representing the region, it’s a great pleasure and honour that I’m very happy to carry”

In addition to being excited about the study she will conduct on board, she noted that she was looking forward to sharing her time on the ISS with children.