The Ax-2 space mission took off for the ISS with two Saudi astronauts on board

task Ax-2, organized by the American company Axiom Space, was sent to the ISS on Sunday, May 21. The liftoff took place shortly before 5:40 p.m. on a rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. SpaceX Falcon 9.

The first two Saudi astronauts to go to the space station are on board. Rayana Barnavi And Ali al-Qarni There are also two other team members. The mission is led by former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, who has already completed three missions to the ISS. American businessman John Shofner pilot.

Four astronauts are using the SpaceX Dragon capsule to reach the ISS, where they will arrive at 1:24pm GMT Monday and stay for ten days.

Two Saudi astronauts on board

Rayana Barnavi, a scientist by training, expressed her happiness at being Saudi Arabia’s first female astronaut and representing the region. “It is a great pleasure and honor to be Saudi’s first female astronaut and to represent the region,” she said during a press conference days before takeoff.

His friend Ali al-Qarni He is a fighter pilot. “I’ve always been interested in exploring the unknown and admiring the sky and the stars,” he explained. So this is a wonderful opportunity for me to pursue this passion, this time to fly among the stars. »

Al-Qarni and Barnawi are not the first Saudis to be sent into space. Saudi Arabia sent one of its citizens, Prince Sultan bin Salman, into space in 1985 as part of a US mission.

A partnership between NASA and Axiom Space

This is the second partnership between NASA And Axiom Space. The four team members will conduct about twenty experiments during their stay, including studying the behavior of stem cells in weightlessness.

They will join seven passengers already on the ISS, including three Russians, three Americans and an Emirati cosmonaut. Sultan al-NeyadiHe was the first national of an Arab country to perform a spacewalk.

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