Welcome Home: A New Era of Saudi Astronauts

The long wait has finally come to an end! Ali Al-Qarni and Rayyanah Barnawi, who made headlines for being the first female Saudi astronaut, return home safely from their ten-day trip to the International Space Station on Wednesday, May 31st. After undocking from the orbiting lab, they parachuted from the SpaceX capsule and landed just off the Florida panhandle, which was witnessed live by thousands of enthusiastic Saudi citizens.

The AX-2 mission was privately funded by the company Axiom, and the astronauts traveled to the ISS on a spacecraft provided by Elon Musk’s, SpaceX.

While on board the orbiting laboratory, the astronauts conducted 14 groundbreaking scientific experiments, including six experiments related to the brain and nervous system, four experiments involving immune cells, and an experiment in water seeding technology. The aim of these experiments are to enhance our understanding of human health in space and identify biomarkers or potential biotechnology-based treatments for inflammatory illnesses both on Earth and beyond.

As Rayyanah packed away her experiments, she was in tears and said, “every story comes to an end, and this is only the beginning of a new era for our country and our region.” The people of Saudi Arabia are thrilled to welcome home the astronauts and are confident it won’t be their last journey to space.

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