Ali Al Qarni and Rayyanah Barnawi will embark on their journey to the ISS from the US. Image Credit: SPA

Dubai: Saudi Arabia is gearing up for its first-ever space mission, with astronauts Ali Al Qarni and Rayyanah Barnawi set to launch on May 21, according to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

The mission is a landmark event, with Barnawi will become the first Arab Muslim woman astronaut.

The two astronauts will embark on their journey to the International Space Station (ISS) from the United States. The mission, initially delayed, is now confirmed by NASA Space Operations to take off on May 21.

During their time in space, Al Qarni and Barnawi will carry out 14 innovative scientific experiments in microgravity. These experiments aim to aid scientists and researchers in developing suitable conditions for extended human space exploration.

The astronauts will also conduct three educational experiments, interacting with 12,000 Saudi students via a live feed.

The mission’s outcome are expected to enhance Saudi Arabia’s global standing in space exploration, support local research centres, and contribute scientifically to future space exploration.

It will also position Saudi Arabia among the few countries that have sent two astronauts to the ISS.

The Saudi astronaut programme, launched in September 2022, is part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 goals to promote space research.

The programme aims to prepare future astronauts and engineers for space exploration by offering quality educational and training programs, participation in scientific experiments, international research, and future space-related missions.