Axiom Space company yesterday launched its second private mission to the International Space Station carrying two Saudi astronauts including the first Saudi woman.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, carrying Ali Alqarni and Rayyanah Barnawi launched at 17:37 (21:37 GMT) from the Kennedy Space Centre in the US state of Florida.
Liftoff of Ax-2! pic.twitter.com/YS3SDuStNy
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 21, 2023
The crew also include former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, who has already been to the International Space Station three times, and American entrepreneur John Shoffner, who will pilot the spacecraft.
The crew is scheduled to spend ten days aboard the International Space Station.
“It is a great pleasure and honour for me to be the first Saudi female astronaut and to represent the region,” Barnawi said in a press conference, adding that she is excited to talk to children from the International Space Station.
“Seeing their faces when they see astronauts from their region for the first time is very interesting,” she said.
Alqarni, a military pilot, said, “I have always had a passion for exploring the unknown and contemplating the sky and the stars,” adding that “this is a wonderful opportunity for me to pursue this passion and to fly among the stars this time.”