Wednesday, February 15, 2023
Axiom Mission 1 launching aboard a Falcon 9 in April, en route to the ISS. Image: NASA/Joel Kowsky.
15 February 2023: Saudi Arabia announces astronaut to be nation's first female space traveler
12 February 2023: India launches Small Satellite Launch Vehicle, deploying three low-earth orbit satellites
15 July 2022: First deep space images from James Webb Space Telescope released
29 January 2022: James Webb Space Telescope moves to final orbit
7 April 2021: NASA's helicopter Ingenuity survives its first night at Mars
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On Sunday, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) announced Saudi Arabia had selected its first female astronaut, Rayyanah Barnawi, to join a private mission to the International Space Station (ISS) later this year, slating her to be the kingdom's first female spacegoer.
Operator Axiom Space revealed the other three crew members for the mission, Ax-2, on Sunday: a male Saudi, Ali Al-Qarni; Peggy Whitson, a retired NASA astronaut who has flown to the ISS three times; and John Shoffner, a businessman from Tennessee, US, selected to pilot the mission.
The SPA said SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket would fly the mission from Launch Complex 39A in the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, US.
Oil-rich Saudi Arabia would follow the United Arab Emirates, its neighbour, which became the first Arab country to send a citizen into space in 2019.
According to the Agence France-Presse, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia's de facto leader, has been attempting to rid the kingdom of its austere image by enacting reforms, including the establishment of the space programme in 2018.
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Agence France-Presse. "Saudi Arabia to send its first woman into space" — France 24, February 13, 2023
"Saudi Arabia to send woman into space despite 'male guardian' laws" — The Daily Telegraph, February 13, 2023