Saudi Arabia To Send Its First Female Astronaut To Space in Partnership With Axiom

According to The Washington Post, Saudi Arabia announced that it will begin a training program to send its astronauts, including its first local female astronaut, into space next year. The mission will be organized by Houston-based company Axiom Space. Axiom Space President and CEO Michael Suffredin stated, “space belongs to all of humanity, which is one of the reasons Axiom Space is pleased to welcome our new partnership with the Saudi Space Commission to train and fly Saudi astronauts, including the first female Saudi astronaut.” This will not be the first time Saudi Arabia has sent astronauts into space as Prince Sultan bin Salman Al Saud has already made it to orbit when he flew on the STS-51-G mission of the space shuttle Discovery in 1985.

Via Space

This mission will come as part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 strategy to revamp its economy and reduce its reliance on oil. This is why the nation is actively encouraging science and technology. The space program, championed by Saudi Arabia’s strong Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also asks for increased inclusion of women in the country’s workforce.

According to Wired, the Saudi Space Commission released a statement that said, “in the upcoming months, the Kingdom plans to announce its National Space Strategy, which will reveal space programs and initiatives that aim to serve humanity from space.”

Other Arab nations venturing into space

This space launch mission continues the trend set by the UAE, which also has ambitions to launch its first lunar rover this coming Nov. in addition to their Mars Hope Probe that was launched back in Feb. 2021 and the Mars Science City. What enables the UAE to become a pioneer in the space industry within the region is the National Space Fund which was established as an AED 3 billion fund by UAE Space Agency. It supports ground-breaking programs that support international and Emirati companies co-operating in space sector engineering, sciences, and research applications. The Fund’s first project was the constellation of advanced radar satellites that will use synthetic aperture radar (SAR) tech to get clear images of land, ice cover, and surface changes through a combination of observations uninhibited by fog and cloud cover.

Integration of women into Saudi’s society

Apart from sending the first woman in space, in 2018, Saudi Arabia abolished a long-standing prohibition on women driving. Also, back in Nov. 2021, Saudi Federation gave the green light for Its first official women’s football League. Not only this but also according to The National News, Saudi women are now playing a bigger role in the logistics behind Hajj with new jobs within the General Cars Syndicate in Makka which is responsible for arranging transport for pilgrims around the different sites of Hajj in Makkah and Madinah, now working in customer service and media representation roles within the organization. Finally, in 2019, according to the Saudi Gazette, The Ministry of Education hired Saudi women drivers to transport school students.

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