Four years after it allowed women to drive cars, Saudi Arabia is set to launch the first women into space. The Kingdom on Thursday launched its first astronaut program that aims to train Saudi competent personnel to undertake long- and short-term space flights.
The program will see a woman astronaut being launched alongside male astronauts to space and is part of the Kingdom’s ambitious Vision 2030.
"The program 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," the Saudi Space Commission said in a statement.
It added that the astronaut program is an integral part of Vision 2030 and 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."
The Arab country also plans to launch its National Space Strategy in the coming months, which will reveal space programs and initiatives that aim to serve humanity from space. The country has already signed a deal privately earlier this year with Houston's Axiom Space, which arranges and manages private missions to space on U.S. spacecraft for researchers and tourists.
Under the deal, two Saudi astronauts will ride SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule to the space station for a roughly weeklong stay early next year, the sources said. The Saudis would be the first from their country to go into space aboard a private spacecraft.
The development makes UAE the second Arab country after the UAE to launch an ambitious space program. UAE, however, remains a step ahead with its successful mission around Moon and is on course to launch Rashid, a rover to the Moon on a SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket.