Saudi Arabia on Thursday (September 22) launched its first training programme with the goal of sending its own astronauts, including a woman, into space next year.
Saudi Space Commission, which was established in December 2018, announced on its website that its first astronaut programme is dedicated to train the country’s “competent personnel to undertake long- and short-term space flights”.
“The programme will enable Saudi astronauts to conduct scientific experiments and research for the betterment of humanity in priority areas such as health, sustainability and space technology,” it said.
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“The Saudi Astronaut Program, which is an integral part of the Kingdom’s ambitious Vision 2030, will send Saudi astronauts into space to help better serve humanity. One of the astronauts will be a Saudi woman, whose mission to space will represent a historical first for the Kingdom,” it added.
Human space flights boost countries’ global leadership and competitiveness in areas such as science, engineering, and research and innovation. In the coming months, the Kingdom plans to launch its National Space Strategy, which will reveal space programmes and initiatives that aim to serve humanity from space, the commission said.
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The first Arab or Muslim to travel to space was Saudi Arabia’s Prince Sultan bin Salman, a half-brother of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and an air force pilot who was part of the seven-member crew of NASA’s Discovery mission in 1985. He later served as head of the Saudi Space Commission from 2018 until last year, when he was appointed an adviser to King Salman.
The neighbouring United Arab Emirates has the Arab world’s leading space program, having launched a probe into Mars orbit in February 2021.
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The UAE plans to launch its first lunar rover in November. If the moon mission succeeds, the UAE and Japan, which is providing the lander, would join the ranks of only the US, Russia and China as nations that have put a spacecraft on the lunar surface.
(With Agency inputs)
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