Saudi Arabia plans to send first female cosmonaut into space in 2023

  • September 22, 2022
Saudi Arabia plans to send first female cosmonaut into space in 2023

Saudi Arabia is launching a training program to send its astronauts, including women, into space next year, the AP reports.

The kingdom is aggressively pushing science and technology as part of its sweeping "Vision 2030" plan to overhaul its economy and reduce its dependence on oil.

The plan, championed by Saudi Arabia's powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also calls for greater integration of women. In 2018, Saudi Arabia lifted a long-standing ban on women driving.

"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,” the Saudi Space Commission said in a statement.

"One of the astronauts will be a Saudi woman, whose mission to space will represent a historical first for the Kingdom.”

The first Arab or Muslim to go into space was Saudi Prince Sultan bin Salman, the crown prince's half-brother and an Air Force pilot who was part of the seven-man crew of NASA's Discovery mission in 1985.  He chaired the Saudi Arabian Space Commission from 2018 until last year, when he was appointed advisor to King Salman.

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