Texas: A private mission to the International Space Station (ISS) organised by Axiom Space is all set to launch the 'Ax-2' on Sunday from Florida with the first-ever Saudi woman in its crew to voyage into space, according to Axiom Space.
Rayyanah Barnawi, a breast cancer researcher, is the first-ever Saudi woman to voyage into space along with another Saudi national, Ali AlQarni. The launch of Ax-2 is targeted for no earlier than 5:37 pm EDT on Sunday, May 21, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Funded mission, and aviator, John Shoffner of Knoxville, Tennessee, will serve as pilot. The two mission specialists, Ali AlQarni and Rayyanah Barnawi from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) are members of the inaugural Saudi national astronaut program, reported Axiom Space.
33-year-old Barnawi is a young laboratory specialist who has vast experience in the research of cancer stem cells. She is currently working as a research and laboratory specialist.
Holder of a bachelor's degree in reproductive science, genetic engineering, and tissue development from the University of Otago in New Zealand, she obtained her master's degree in biomedical sciences from King Faisal University. She has nine years of brilliant experience in the field of cancer stem cell research, according to Saudi Gazette.
In February, Saudi Arabia announced that it will be sending the first Saudi female astronaut Rayyanah Barnawi and male astronaut Ali Al-Qarni to the ISS during the second quarter of 2023.
The spaceflight is scheduled to launch from the USA to the International Space Station. In addition, the Saudi Human Spaceflight Program includes the training of two more astronauts -- Mariam Fardous and Ali Al-Ghamdi -- on all mission requirements, as per the report in the Saudi Gazette.
The space mission aims to empower the capabilities of Saudi scientists in human spaceflight geared towards serving humanity and benefiting from the promising opportunities offered by the space industry, as well as contributing to scientific research in many aspects such as health, sustainability, and space technology.
Through this program, the Kingdom seeks to activate scientific innovations at the level of space sciences, and enhance its ability to independently conduct its own research that will reflect positively on the future of the space industry and the country as well, reported Saudi Gazette.