Rayyanah Barnawi, a breast cancer researcher, is set to become the first Saudi Arabian woman to blast off on a mission to space this May. She is part of a private mission and will be joined by fellow Saudi Ali Al-Qarni, a fighter pilot; Peggy Whitson, a former National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) astronaut; and John Shoffner, a businessman from Tennessee who will serve as pilot on the trip, the NASA officials said on April 6.
The four-member crew will travel to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard a SpaceX Dragon capsule, marking the launch of private space company Axiom Space’s second mission. Barnawi will serve as a mission specialist for Axiom Mission 2 (Ax-2).
Barnawi earned her undergraduate degree in Biomedical Sciences from University of Otago, New Zealand. She has done a Master’s in Biomedical Sciences from Riyadh. Barnawi has over nine years of experience in cancer stem cell research. She, along with the crew, will set off from Florida, United States, on May 8 in the private mission seen as an important step towards the first commercial space station in the world – a possible replacement for ISS, NASA said on its website.
Barnawi earned her undergraduate degree in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Otago, New Zealand. She has done masters in biomedical sciences from Saudi Arabia itself. A research laboratory technician with nine years of experience in breast cancer and stem-cell cancer research, she will be the first Muslim female astronaut to fly to space on a 10-day mission to ISS, NASA said.