Tunisia is going to send its first woman astronaut into space, it was announced on Saturday by locally-based technology company Telnet Holding. The successful candidate will also be the first African to go into space, and will be selected to take part in a mission on board the International Space Station (ISS) scheduled for 2024.
The astronaut will be chosen from a shortlist of eight women candidates, all of whom are fighter pilot graduates from the Borj El-Amri aviation school. The nominees have been named as: Hala Awassa, Ibtihal Youssef, Wafa El-Baldi, El-Yomna Dalali, Olfa Lajnef, Rahma Trabelsi, Hind Safferi and Malika Mabrouk.
🇹🇳 🧑🏻🚀 | La #Tunisie a annoncé, samedi, la liste des candidates, dont l'une sera choisie pour être la première astronaute du pays à participer, en 2024, à une mission à bord de la Station spatiale internationale.#women #empoweredwomen pic.twitter.com/s3xYwVEZ3H
— CyberC0m🌍 (@Cyberc0m) August 14, 2022
The announcement was made during a special ceremony coinciding with Women’s Day, which is on 13 August in the North African country.
Mohamed Frikha, the Director General of Telnet, was quoted by Anadolu Agency as saying that the candidates will “soon undergo extensive medical and physical tests” both in Tunisia and abroad. Only then will two candidates be selected to go to Russia. “There they will take part in specific training in the Russian Space Agency’s training centres for one year.”
The candidate chosen to complete the mission in 2024 will be proficient in the field of physics and medicine. “The mission will last 10 days,” added Frikha, “and the nominees are the pride of Tunisian women who they are representing in the best possible way.” Their candidacy is “a testament to their courage and will to honour their country.”
According to Tass news agency, Russia and Tunisia signed a memorandum of understanding last year regarding space flights.