On Monday, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia launched the Kingdom program for astronauts, and said that it will send the first male and female Saudi astronauts into space next year.
As per Saudi Press Agency, the program aims to qualify experienced national cadres to carry out long and short-term space flights, to participate in practical experiments, international research and future space missions. The program is also intended to seek advantage of the promising opportunities in the future in many aspects of life.
The Kingdom's program for astronauts includes sending Saudi astronauts into space on humanitarian missions. The program comes as an integrated package under the umbrella of Vision 2030, which designed to focus on a strategic framework to reduce Saudi Arabia's dependence on oil, diversify its economy, and develop public service sectors such as health, education, infrastructure, recreation, and tourism.
As per reports, the first flights under the program will be launched in 2023 which will include first Saudi female pilot and astronaut crew. It will mark an important historical event for the Kingdom - sending the first Saudi woman into space.
After this major step, Saudi Arabia will be the second Arab country to send astronauts on missions after the UAE. Sultan Al Neyadi was the first astronaut to go into space from UAE for long-term space mission in cooperation with NASA and SpaceX. And Emirati Nora Al Matrooshi became the first Arab woman to join the world of astronauts, after the UAE presented her as part of the second batch of its astronauts to NASA in 2021.
The joint Emirati-US mission is scheduled to launch in the spring of 2023.