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Rayana Barnawi: The first Arab female astronaut to reach the International Space Station

  • David Gritten
  • BBC

image copyright NASA

Rayana Barnawi, the first Arab female astronaut, arrived at the International Space Station.

Barnawi was one of two Saudis among the crew of the private Axiom-2 space mission, which was lifted into space by a SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket from the United States on Sunday.

Barnawi, 34, is a researcher in biomedical sciences.

During this 10-day mission on the International Space Station, Barnawi plans to conduct research related to stem cells and breast cancer.

She hopes to be an inspiration to women of all backgrounds in the Middle East.

In a video clip filmed in space before arriving at the International Station, Bernawi said: “To people around the world: The future is very bright. I would like you to dream a lot, to believe in yourself, and to believe in humanity.”

And accompanied by Rayana Barnawi aboard the Axiom-2 mission, Ali Al-Qarni, who is the second Saudi man to go to space; As well as two Americans, Peggy Whitson and John Shoffner.

The crew blasted off into space inside the Dragon spacecraft from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA, at 21:37 GMT on Sunday.

The Dragon spacecraft arrived at the International Space Station at 13:12 GMT on Monday, according to an Axiom mission tweet.

During their mission to the International Space Station, the flight crew will conduct more than 20 science and technology experiments, including studying the effects of space on human health, as well as seeding technology.

image copyright Reuters

photo comment,

Rayana Bernawi said she is looking forward to sharing her experience in space with children via video links

The experiments that Bernawi will conduct on the International Space Station build on some of her work over the nine years she spent as a researcher in the stem cell and tissue engineering program at King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center in Riyadh.

In a recent press conference, Rayana Barnawi expressed her great pleasure at being the first Saudi woman to go to space. Bernawi noted that she is looking forward to sharing her experience on the International Space Station through video links with the children, saying that she is excited to see the reaction on the children’s faces when they see astronauts from their region for the first time.

“We aim to benefit all people through science,” said space engineer and advisor to the Saudi Space Authority, Mishaal Al-Shammari, who holds both Saudi and American nationalities.

Al-Shammari added, “We hope that this mission will be a source of inspiration for girls from diverse backgrounds in order to enrich the human experience.”

It is worth noting that women in Saudi Arabia did not obtain the right to drive a car until 2018, while human rights organizations say that male guardianship laws in the Kingdom still restrict women.

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