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Saudi astronauts Rayyanah Barnawi and Ali Al Qarni, with their crew Peggy Whitson and John Shoffner. Image Credit: Reuters

Dubai: Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council, took to his twitter account to praise Saudi astronauts who commenced their historic space mission on Sunday.

“Saudi astronauts Rayyanah Barnawi, the first Arab woman to go on a space mission, and Ali Al Qarni, will today commence their historic journey to the International Space Station, where they will join Emirati astronaut @Astro_Alneyadi. We wish them success in this exceptional mission. Their journey will lead to the first-ever meeting of three Arab astronauts on the ISS. The youth of the Arab world continue to demonstrate their excellence in advanced science-based sectors,” Sheikh Hamdan tweeted.


Rayyanah Barnawi, a breast cancer researcher, will become the first Saudi woman to voyage into space and will be joined on the mission by fellow Saudi Ali Al Qarni, a fighter pilot.

The Axiom Mission 2 (Ax-2) crew will take off aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral in the southern state of Florida at 5:37 pm (2137 GMT).

The team also includes Peggy Whitson, a former NASA astronaut who will be making her fourth flight to the ISS, and John Shoffner, a businessman from Tennessee who will serve as pilot.

They are due to spend around 10 days on board the ISS, where they should arrive around 1:30 pm on Monday.