SAUDI astronauts Rayyanah Barnawi and Ali Al Qarni made their way onboard the International Space Station (ISS) on Monday evening with laughter and conversations in Arabic as UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi welcomed them with water and dates.
AlNeyadi was seen taking photographs of the incoming crew and giving them a grand tour of the orbital outpost, local media reported.
Astronauts Barnawi and Al Qarni sent their first message from space, greeting Saudi Arabia’s people and leadership as the kingdom made history with sending the first ever Arab female astronaut to the International Space Station (ISS).
Barnawi and Al Qarni took off from a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket aboard a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft early yesterday morning as part of the Axiom 2 space mission (Ax-2) to the ISS from Nasa’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida. They are joined by two other astronauts, Peggy Whitson and John Shoffner.
“Hello from outer space, it feels amazing to be viewing earth from this capsule,” Barnawi said in the first on-Orbit crew flight status event.
“We are here feeling microgravity thanks to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the leaders, King Salman and the visionary Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, [and] for their support in this mission,” Barnawi said, sending special regards to her family.
“To the people around the world, well the future is very bright. I would you like to dream big, believe in yourselves and believe in humanity,” she added.
For his part, Al Qarni said that this moment was ‘historic not just for me but for every Saudi, I couldn’t have done it without the support, the love [and] the trust from all of you.”
He expressed his gratitude to the Saudi King Salman and the Crown Prince for paving the way for this moment and for “their never-ending empowerment, support and trust that every Saudi should be proud of”. “As I look outside into space, I cannot help but think that this is just the beginning of a great journey for all us,” he added.
UAE astronaut Al Neyadi, is currently on the ISS for a six-month mission.
Barnawi and Al Qarni said last week that the fact that there will be three Arab astronauts onboard the ISS will send a message of inspiration and co-operation among Arabs.
During her scheduled 10 days in orbit on the ISS, the biomedical scientist plans to carry out stem cell and breast cancer research.