To begin with, Rayyanah Barnawi becomes Saudi Arabia’s first female astronaut In space. Saudi Arabia will send Rayyanah Barnawi, its first-ever woman astronaut, on a mission to the International Space Station (ISS) during the second quarter of 2023. Rayyanah Barnawi is a biomedical researcher and Saudi astronaut, selected for Axiom Mission 2 as a Mission Specialist by the Saudi Space Commission; her selection was officially announced on February 12, 2023.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is still known as one of the conservative countries with many restrictions on women. But the country is slowly moving towards giving women better opportunities, a recent example being space missions featuring female astronauts.
Saudi Arabia’s first female astronaut in space
However, over the past few years, Saudi Arabia has implemented reforms to give women more freedom and rights. Women could drive and travel abroad without a male chaperone. The share of the labour force has also increased significantly since 2017. These reforms also change the country’s image in the world. The latest attempt in this direction was the Saudi Arabia space mission AX-2, which also features female astronaut Ryan Barnawi.
She did Bachelor’s in Otago
Besides, NASA and its international partners have approved the crew lineup for Axiom Space’s second privately funded mission to the International Space Station — a lineup that includes the first Saudi woman cleared to go into orbit.Two of the former crew members — former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson and John Shoffner, a Tennessee business executive, race car driver and aviator — had previously been announced. They will be joined by Ali Al-Karni and Rayanna Barnawi, who represent the Saudi Arabian National Astronaut Program. Only Saudi citizen Sultan bin Salman Al Saud, aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1985, has been to space. Axiom’s 10-day space mission, known as Ax-2, is currently scheduled for this spring.
Moreover, she holds a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Otago. She also has a Master’s degree in Biomedical Science from Al Faisal University where she studied breast cancer stem cell adhesion. She has 9 years of experience in cancer stem cell research. When she was selected, she worked as a research laboratory assistant at the King Faisal Specialty Hospital and Research Centre in Riyadh. As part of her mission this time, she will be experimenting with her missions in her field.