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SpaceX sends Saudi astronauts, together with nation’s 1st lady in area, to Worldwide Area Station – Hartford Courant

By MARCIA DUNN (AP Aerospace Author)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Saudi Arabia’s first astronauts in many years rocketed towards the Worldwide Area Station on a chartered multimillion-dollar flight Sunday.

SpaceX launched the ticket-holding crew, led by a retired NASA astronaut now working for the corporate that organized the journey. Additionally on board: a U.S. businessman who now owns a sports activities automobile racing crew.

The 4 ought to attain the area station of their capsule Monday morning; they’ll spend simply over per week there earlier than returning house with a splashdown off the Florida coast.

Sponsored by the Saudi Arabian authorities, Rayyanah Barnawi, a stem cell researcher, grew to become the primary lady from the dominion to go to area. She was joined by Ali al-Qarni, a fighter pilot with the Royal Saudi Air Drive.

They’re the primary from their nation to experience a rocket since a Saudi prince launched aboard shuttle Discovery in 1985. In a quirk of timing, they’ll be greeted on the station by an astronaut from the United Arab Emirates.

“It is a dream come true for everybody,” Barnawi mentioned earlier than the flight. “Simply having the ability to perceive that that is potential. If me and Ali can do it, then they’ll do it, too.”

Rounding out the visiting crew: Knoxville, Tennessee’s John Shoffner, former driver and proprietor of a sports activities automobile racing crew that competes in Europe, and chaperone Peggy Whitson, the station’s first feminine commander who holds the U.S. file for many collected time in area: 665 days and counting.

“It was an exceptional experience,” Whitson mentioned after reaching orbit. Her crewmates clapped their arms in pleasure.

It’s the second personal flight to the area station organized by Houston-based Axiom Area. The primary was final yr by three businessmen, with one other retired NASA astronaut. The corporate plans to start out including its personal rooms to the station in one other few years, ultimately eradicating them to type a stand-alone outpost accessible for rent.

Axiom gained’t say how a lot Shoffner and Saudi Arabia are paying for the deliberate 10-day mission. The corporate had beforehand cited a ticket value of $55 million every.

NASA’s newest value checklist reveals per-person, per-day prices of $2,000 for meals and as much as $1,500 for sleeping luggage and different gear. Must get your stuff to the area station prematurely? Determine roughly $10,000 per pound ($20,000 per kilogram), the identical charge for trashing it afterward. Want your objects again intact? Double the worth.

At the least the e-mail and video hyperlinks are free.

The visitors may have entry to many of the station as they conduct experiments, {photograph} Earth and chat with schoolchildren again house, demonstrating how kites fly in area when hooked up to a fan.

After many years of shunning area tourism, NASA now embraces it with two personal missions deliberate a yr. The Russian Area Company has been doing it, on and off, for many years.

“Our job is to broaden what we do in low-Earth orbit throughout the globe,” mentioned NASA’s area station program supervisor Joel Montalbano.

SpaceX’s first-stage booster landed again at Cape Canaveral eight minutes after liftoff, to be recycled for a future flight.

“It was a really, very thrilling day,” particularly seeing the booster return to the launch website, mentioned Axiom’s chief know-how officer, Matt Ondler. Now comes the remainder of the mission, he famous, “all towards a path of what we predict the way forward for low-Earth orbit is.”


The Related Press Well being and Science Division receives help from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Academic Media Group. The AP is solely liable for all content material.



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