Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: According to state media, Saudi Arabia is set to send its first-ever woman astronaut to space later this year.
Rayyanah Barnawi will join a Saudi male astronaut, Ali Al-Qarni, on a mission to the International Space Station during the second quarter of 2023.
The oil-rich country will follow in the footsteps of its neighboring country, the United Arab Emirates, which sent its first citizen to space in 2019.
The move to send a woman astronaut to space is part of the country’s push for reforms and to revamp its ultra-conservative image.
In addition, the country has been seeking to diversify its economy through various projects, including a space program launched in 2018.
The forthcoming mission will launch from the United States as part of the AX-2 space mission.