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Astronaut Team Comprising First Arab Woman In Orbit Returns From Space Station

Rayyanah Barnawi, 34, is the first woman from the Arab world ever launched into Earth orbit and the first Saudi woman to fly in space.

NASA and JAXA astronauts inside the SpaceX Dragon
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An astronaut team comprising of first Arab woman have landed down safely capping an eight-day research mission aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

The Reuters report said an all-private astronaut team of two Americans and two Saudis, including the first Arab woman sent into orbit, splashed down safely off Florida on Tuesday night.

It said the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule carrying them parachuted into the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Panama City, Florida, after a 12-hour return flight and blazing re-entry plunge through Earth’s atmosphere.

“The splashdown was carried live by a joint webcast presented by SpaceX and the company behind the mission, Axiom Space. It concluded the second space station mission organized, equipped and trained entirely at private expense by Axiom, a 7-year-old Houston-based venture headed by NASA’s former ISS program manager,” it said.

It added: “The Axiom 2 crew was led by retired NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, 63, who holds the US record for most time spent in orbit with 665 days in space over three long-duration missions to the ISS, including 10 spacewalks. She now serves as Axiom’s director of human spaceflight.”

“That was a phenomenal ride. We really enjoyed all of it,” Whitson was quoted in the report as having said.

“Ax-2’s designated pilot was John Shoffner, 67, an aviator, race car driver and investor from Alaska. Rounding out the crew as mission specialists were the first two astronauts from Saudi Arabia to fly aboard a private spacecraft – Ali Alqarni, 31, a fighter pilot for the Royal Saudi Air Force; and Rayyanah Barnawi, 34, a biomedical scientist in cancer stem-cell research,” it said.

The report said Barnawi is the first woman from the Arab world ever launched into Earth orbit and the first Saudi woman to fly in space, an achievement that came barely five years after women in the Gulf kingdom gained the right to drive in June 2018.

California-based SpaceX, founded by Twitter owner and Tesla Inc electric carmaker CEO Elon Musk, supplied the Falcon 9 rocket and crew capsule that ferried Axiom’s team to and from orbit and controlled the flight.

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