On Monday, two Saudi visitors arrived at the International Space Station, including the nation’s first female astronaut.
Less than 16 hours after taking off from Florida, SpaceX’s contracted flight reached the orbiting lab. Before traveling back to Earth in their capsule, the four visitors will stay there for slightly over a week.
Eleven people now occupy the space station, including representatives from Saudi Arabia, the United States, the United Arab Emirates, and Russia, which is 430 kilometers (270 miles) above the Earth’s surface.
Sultan al-Neyadi, an astronaut from the UAE, gave them dates as a customary welcome. The first female astronaut from Saudi Arabia and stem cell researcher Rayyanah Barnawi said, “This shows how space unites everyone.” “I’m going to make the most of this experience,” she said.
Ali al-Qarni, a Saudi fighter pilot, dedicated the trip to everyone back home. “This quest involves more than simply Rayyanah and I; this mission is also for aspirational and dreamy folks.
The cost of both of them is being covered by the Saudi government more than $1 million.
A businessman from Knoxville, Tennessee, John Shoffner, who founded a sports car racing team, is covering all costs.
Their guide is retired NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson. She currently works for Houston-based Axiom Space, which planned the 10-day journey, its second to the space station.
The corporation refused to disclose the price of the most recent seats, citing ticket prices of $55 million each for a private trip taken by three businessmen last year.
Only one other Saudi, a royal who traveled aboard NASA’s shuttle Discovery in 1985, has ever entered space.