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Saudi Arabia aims to launch its 1st woman to space as soon as 2023

The nation announced that it has started an astronaut program (opens in new tab) and intends to send two of its citizens to space — at least one of them a woman — as early as 2023.

Saudi Arabia aims to launch its 1st woman to space as soon as 2023 gcw
First Published Sep 23, 2022, 10:18 AM IST

Saudi Arabia is getting ready to send the first female astronauts into orbit, four years after allowing women to drive. The Kingdom's first astronaut training programme, which aims to prepare Saudi professionals for both long- and short-term space missions, was inaugurated on Thursday.

The initiative, which is a component of the Kingdom's ambitious Vision 2030, would see a woman astronaut launch into space alongside male astronauts.

The Saudi Space Commission stated in a statement that the initiative "would enable Saudi astronauts to undertake scientific experiments and research for the development of mankind in important areas such as health, sustainability, and space technology."

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The astronaut programme, it said, is a crucial component of Vision 2030 and will send "Saudi astronauts are going into space to help the human race. A Saudi woman will be one of the astronauts, marking a first for the country when she travels to space."

In the upcoming months, the Arab nation also intends to unveil its National Space Strategy, which will outline space activities and programmes intended to benefit mankind from space. The nation has already secretly inked a contract with Houston's Axiom Space, which organises and operates private spaceflights aboard American spacecraft for scientists and tourists, earlier this year.

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Under the deal, two Saudi astronauts will ride SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule to the space station for a roughly weeklong stay early next year, the sources said. The Saudis would be the first from their country to go into space aboard a private spacecraft.

The development makes UAE the second Arab country after the UAE to launch an ambitious space program. UAE, however, remains a step ahead with its successful mission around Moon and is on course to launch Rashid, a rover to the Moon on a SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket.

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