Saudi astronauts, Rayyanah Bernawi and Ali al-Qarni, completed their final preparations as part of the AX-2 crew for the launch of their mission at the International Space Station (ISS), which will be launched atop the Falcon 9 rocket and the Dragon spacecraft.
The historic flight is a turning point in the Saudi space sector, being part of Saudi Arabia's Astronauts Program, launched on September 22, 2022.
The Saudi astronauts will conduct 14 scientific and research experiments during their mission to the ISS, contributing to scientific research.
The new mission affirms Saudi Arabia's ambition to benefit from space in all fields, as it is a giant future sector with global visions of sustainability, technology, and scientific research.
Saudi Arabia achieved several developments in this sector to be among the new space leadership, adopting its emerging activities while providing the infrastructure needed to ensure the sector's empowerment and prosperity.
NASA had announced that Bernawi and Qarni would take off in Spring 2023 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on a SpaceX rocket towards the ISS, accompanied by John Schofner and Peggy Whitson.
The Saudi astronauts will conduct various experiments and studies during the space mission.
They will investigate changes in vital indicators in the blood that reflect functional brain tissues during short-term space missions and determine the safety of such trips for the brain.
Additionally, they will measure the effect of short-term space flights on telomere length and conduct a mydriasis experiment to measure intracranial pressure. Other investigations will focus on enhancing knowledge of spaceflight-associated neuro-ocular syndrome (SANS) by measuring electrical activity in the brain using EEG and studying the diameter of the optic nerve envelope for astronauts.
The mission will also explore cerebral perfusion and postural adjustments of the brain in microgravity using near-infrared spectroscopy as a non-invasive technique.
The official logo of the Kingdom's scientific mission to the ISS is a circular shape featuring the Saudi flag and says "Saudi Arabia towards space" alongside the names of the two Saudi astronauts.
The logo embodies the noble goals of the Kingdom's scientific mission, centered around empowering people, protecting the planet, and opening new horizons through the research the astronauts will conduct in health and environmental sustainability.
The logo will be placed on the official uniform of the crew, as it is customary for all space flights to have an official logo for each mission before the team leaves the planet Earth into space.
Earlier this month, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received Bernawi, al-Qarni, Mariam Fardous, and Ali al-Ghamdi, before the launch of the Kingdom's scientific mission to the International Space Station.
The Crown Prince welcomed the crew, reiterating the importance of the space sector as a significant pillar in enhancing the Kingdom's global competitiveness, emphasizing at the same time the significance of space exploration in serving science and humanity.
He also noted that the Saudi people are pinning great hopes on Bernawi and Qarni as ambassadors and representatives of the Kingdom at the ISS in a mission with noble objectives to empower humanity, protect the planet and open new horizons for research in health and a sustainable environment.
The space sector represents an economic force and includes developing and providing space products and services to end users. It also constitutes a long chain of added values from research and development through space equipment manufacturers to providers of space products and services.
According to the 2018 Stanley Morgan report, the size of the space industry in the world is valued at over $350 billion, while it is expected to generate $ 1.1 trillion in 2040 and about $2.7 trillion by 2050.