AFP: A SpaceX capsule carrying two Saudi astronauts docked with the International Space Station yesterday, as part of a private mission chartered by Axiom Space. Rayyanah Barnawi, a scientist who became the first Saudi woman to go into space, and Ali Al-Qarni, a trained fighter pilot, are the first two people from their country to fly to the orbital outpost.
“Greetings from outer space, I’m here not only representing myself, but representing the hopes and dreams of everyone back home, everyone in the region,” said Barnawi. “We really are excited to be here,” added mission commander Peggy Whitson, a former NASA astronaut who made the voyage three times in the past.
“It was a great launch, a great ride, we had a lot of fun on the way up and we’re really excited to get a lot of work done up here.” The fourth crew member is American businessman John Shoffner. About two hours after docking, the quartet entered the ISS, where they joined the seven astronauts — three Russians, three Americans and an Emirati — already on board.