The crew of the AX-2 space mission, which is Axiom Space’s second all-private astronaut journey to the ISS, will include astronauts Rayyanah Barnawi and Ali AlQarni.
The move, according to the Saudi Press Agency, “aims to strengthen Saudi capabilities in human spaceflight focused towards serving humanity and taking advantage of the potential opportunities given by the space sector.”
The spacecraft will launch to the International Space Station from the United States. Two other astronauts, Mariam Fardous and Ali AlGamdi, are now undergoing training for all aspects of their missions as part of the Saudi Human Spaceflight Program.
The Saudi Human Spaceflight Program, previously announced by the Saudi Space Commission (SSC), is a partnership with the US business Axiom Space to develop Saudi astronauts and advance SSC’s space exploration.
The historic space mission will make the Kingdom one of the very few nations in the world to send two astronauts of the same nationality to the ISS at the same time.
Saudi Arabia’s leadership is eager to provide the programme with unrestricted support, according to Abdullah Al-Swaha, the chairman of the Saudi Space Commission. The program’s goals are to increase graduates’ interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and to foster innovation in the field of space sciences.
Additionally, it aspires to expand human capital by luring talented individuals and increase the Kingdom’s capacity to carry out independent research, which will help the sector and the country.
Mohammed Al-Tamimi, the CEO of the SSC, expressed his appreciation to the Saudi government for its support of the commission and for giving it authority, which has helped the country advance significantly in the space industry.
The distinction of being the first Arab, Muslim, and royal to fly into space belongs to Saudi Prince Sultan bin Salman, the founding chairman of the Saudi Space Commission.