May 26, 2023: Eight minutes after takeoff, SpaceX's first-stage booster touched down at Cape Canaveral. Continue reading to know more!
The first Arab woman astronaut launched into space aboard a private rocket on a mission to the International Space Station (ISS).
At 5:37 p.m. local time (21:37 GMT), they launched from Cape Canaveral in the southern United States aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
Peggy Whitson, a former NASA astronaut who will be making her fourth trip to the ISS, and Tennessee businessman John Shoffner, who is serving as the pilot, are also members of the crew.
Ali al-Qarni, a fighter pilot from Saudi Arabia, travelled on Sunday's mission with Rayyanah Barnawi, a Saudi breast cancer researcher.
They are the country's first astronauts to travel to space in decades.
“Good day from the stars!” After entering orbit, Barnawi remarked that it felt great to be able to see the Earth from this spacecraft.
Being the first Saudi woman astronaut to travel to space was “a great pleasure and honour,” according to Barnawi, who was sponsored by the Saudi government.
Along with being eager to conduct her studies on board, she also expressed interest in telling kids about her time on the ISS. It's exhilarating to see their reactions when they first see astronauts from their own area, she said.
Al-Qarni, a professional fighter pilot, stated that he has "always had the passion of exploring the unknown and just admiring the sky and the stars."
It's a wonderful chance for me to follow this kind of enthusiasm, he remarked, and perhaps now I can just fly among the stars.
Since a Saudi ruler rode the space shuttle Discovery in 1985, the two are the first citizens of their nation to ride a rocket. By chance, a United Arab Emirates astronaut will meet them when they arrive at the station.
The mission marks the second private space journey that Houston-based Axiom Space has organised to the space station.
The first was done by three businessmen and a veteran NASA astronaut last year. In a few more years, the firm intends to begin constructing its own rooms at the station, eventually removing them to create a standalone outpost that may be rented.
Axiom declined to disclose how much Saudi Arabia and Tennessee billionaire Shoffner are paying for the anticipated 10-day expedition. The corporation had previously stated that each ticket would cost $55 million.
NASA now supports space tourism with two commercial missions planned each year after decades of rejecting it. For many years, the Russian Space Agency has been engaged in it intermittently.
The manager of NASA's space station mission, Joel Montalbano, stated, "Our job is to expand what we do in low-Earth orbit across the globe."
"It was a very, very exciting day," remarked Matt Ondler of Axiom.