Kingdom's Scientific Mission Travels to the International Space Station
Saudi Press Agency
Riyadh, May 22, 2023, SPA -- The AX2 space mission launches on 21st May: set to make history as the first ever Arab woman flies to space, and facilitating globally important scientific research
Cape Canaveral, Florida, 21 May 2023: Two Saudi astronauts, Rayyanah Barnawi and Ali AlQarni, are part of the AX2 space mission crew, launched yesterday, Sunday 21stMay (21:37 GMT). The mission includes four astronauts, all travelling towards the International Space Station (ISS), to conduct scientific research experiments that serve humanity.
The SpaceX launch vehicle, which consists of the Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Dragon 2 spacecraft, will take off from NASA's Kennedy Space Centre at Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Following the successful launch, the Dragon 2 spacecraft will separate and begin its course towards the ISS, where the Mission Control crew in Hawthorne, California, will guide the spacecraft until docking is complete within 24 hours. The vehicle is designed to dock autonomously and automatically on the ISS, with the possibility of the crew performing this task if required.
Once the "Dragon 2" spacecraft docks with the ISS, Saudi astronaut, Rayyanah Barnawi, will become the first ever Arab woman to fly into space - a historic moment.
The Saudi Space Commission confirmed that the astronauts, Rayyanah Barnawi and Ali AlQarni, are fully trained and prepared to carry out their mission in space, where they will conduct 14 pioneering research experiments in microgravity that are set to have important scientific impact. The studies that will take place in space range from human research and cell science to artificial rain in microgravity. The astronauts will also conduct three educational awareness experiments with 12,000 Saudi students on the ground during the course of the space flight, hopefully inspiring a future generation of scientists and aspiring astronauts, and encouraging more young women and girls to follow STEM careers.
Each stage of the space flight launch will be closely monitored via an operations centre which includes a specialised astronaut programme team. Before the launch to ISS, NASA and other agencies are conducting a comprehensive review to ensure efficiency and the technical details of the launch process, to ensure the full readiness of the astronauts and their adaptation to the space environment.
The Saudi Space Commission revealed the complex steps that precede the launch of the space flight and the transfer of the two astronauts to the launch base at "Cape Canaveral" in the Kennedy Space Complex. Astronauts, Rayyanah Barnawi and Ali AlQarni, along with the mission crew, are currently completing a quarantine period of around two weeks, in order to avoid infection with any diseases prior to launch and to prevent any bacteria from reaching the spacecraft "Dragon 2" and the ISS. During this period, the mission's astronauts are undergoing daily training, trialling equipment and apparel, and continuous medical testing.
After reaching the launch pad, the mission crew will make final preparations before launch, which include trying on their mission space suits, conducting an accurate simulation of the launch process, and then heading towards the "Falcon 9" missile, where each astronaut will take their designated place inside the "Dragon 2" spacecraft. Then begins the launch process, during which astronauts are connected to life support devices until they safely reach the microgravity zone.
05:29 LOCAL TIME 02:29 GMT
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