Who is Rayyanah Barnawi, first Saudi woman to voyage in space? | World News - Hindustan Times

Who is Rayyanah Barnawi, first Saudi woman to voyage in space?

May 23, 2023 07:22 PM IST

Rayyanah Barnawi, along with a crew of three other astronauts, took off on a private mission from the US state of Florida Sunday.

Rayyanah Barnawi, a breast cancer researcher, became the first Saudi Arabian woman to blast off on a mission to space as she arrived on the International Space Station (ISS) Monday. Part of a private mission, Barnawi was joined by fellow Saudi Ali Al-Qarni, a fighter pilot; Peggy Whitson, a former National Aeronautics and Space Administration astronaut; and John Shoffner, a businessman from Tennessee who served as pilot on the trip, the NASA officials said.

A file photo of Rayyanah Barnawi, the first Saudi woman to go on a space trip.(NASA)
A file photo of Rayyanah Barnawi, the first Saudi woman to go on a space trip.(NASA)

The four-member crew travelled to ISS aboard a SpaceX Dragon capsule, marking the launch of private space company Axiom Space's second mission. The crew is due to spend around 10 days on board the ISS.

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All you need to know about Rayyanah Barnawi:

Barnawi will serve as a mission specialist for Axiom Mission 2 (Ax-2). The international astronaut’s trip to space is being seen as Saudi Arabia’s latest bid to revamp its ultra-conservative image. "Being the first Saudi woman astronaut, representing the region, it's a great pleasure and honor that I'm very happy to carry," Barnawi had said at a press conference ahead of taking off. She added that she is eager to share her experience with the kids.

"Being able to see their faces when they see astronauts from their own region for the first time is very thrilling," she said.

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Barnawi earned her undergraduate degree in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Otago, New Zealand. She has done masters in biomedical sciences from Saudi Arabia itself. A research laboratory technician with nine years of experience in breast cancer and stem-cell cancer research, she will be the first Muslim female astronaut to fly to space on a 10-day mission to ISS, NASA said.

She, along with the crew, will took off from from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, United States, in the private mission seen as an important step towards the first commercial space station in the world – a possible replacement for ISS, NASA said on its website.

The mission comes a year after Axiom Space’s first bid in April 2022, when four astronauts spent 17 days in orbit as part of Ax-1.

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