A breast cancer researcher from Saudi Arabia, Rayyanah Barnawi is all set to blast off on a mission to space this May and will become the first Saudi Woman to voyage in Space. Barnawi will be accompanied by a fighter pilot from Saudi Ali Al-Qarni, a former National Aeronautics and Space Administration astronaut Peggy Whitson and a businessman from Tennessee John Shoffner who will be the pilot for this private mission as confirmed by NASA.
The four-member crew will travel to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard a SpaceX Dragon capsule and will be marked as the second mission of the private space company Axiom Space.
Who is Rayyanah Barnawi?
Barnawi will be the mission specialist for Axiom Mission 2 (Ax-2). The purpose of this international astronaut’s trip to space is being seen as Saudi Arabia’s latest bid to revamp its ultra-conservative image.
NASA said on its website that the private mission is seen as an important step towards the first commercial space station in the world that is a possible replacement for ISS and Barnawi with her crew are set to fly from Florida, United States, on May 8.
Barnawi is a Biomedical Science undergraduate from the University of Otago, New Zealand, and holds her master’s in biomedical sciences from Saudi Arabia itself. She has nine years of experience in breast cancer and stem-cell cancer research and has served as a research laboratory technician. NASA said that she will be the first Muslim female astronaut to fly to space on a 10-day mission to the ISS.
The second mission will happen after a year of Axiom Space’s first bid in April 2022, when there were four astronauts to spend 17 days in orbit as part of Ax-1. The planned takeoff will take place on May 8 from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida, Axiom Space.