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Tuesday June 18, 2024

SpaceX private flight takes first female Arab astronaut to space

Crew to return home by splashdown off the coast of Florida after spending a little over a week in space

By Web Desk
May 22, 2023
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon spacecraft lifts off from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center on May 21, 2023, in Cape Canaveral, Florida. — AFP
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon spacecraft lifts off from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center on May 21, 2023, in Cape Canaveral, Florida. — AFP

Saudi Arabia’s stem cell researcher Rayyanah Barnawi and Royal Air Force fighter pilot Ali Al-Qarni, became the first Arab astronauts to be travelling to space as they boarded the SpaceX Falcon rocket on a private flight on Sunday night, Sky News reported.

The rocket was launched from Nasa's Kennedy Space Centre with four astronauts and is awaited to arrive at International Space Station on Monday.

"This is a dream come true for everyone. Just being able to understand that this is possible — if I and Ali can do it, then they can do it, too," said Rayyanah Barnawi as she suited up for her flight to space for the first time.

Barnawi and Al-Qarni are accompanied by John Shcoffner, a US businessman and sports car racing team owner.

The journey is organized by Micheal Suffredini's Axiom Space with Peggy Whitson leading the crew who previously worked as a Nasa astronaut. Whitson also holds the record for "most accumulated time in space" which is 665 days and counting.

The report further said that the crew would return home by splashdown off the coast of Florida after spending a little over a week in space with access to most of the station. 

Over the week, the crew will carry out experiments, give students back home a demonstration of how kites fly in space attached to a fan and photograph Earth from outer space.