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Meet Rayyanah Barnawi, Saudi Arabia's first female astronaut to go to space

Rayyanah Barnawi said she’ll be taking Arabic coffee with her to drink aboard the International Space Station, teaching children, and practicing zero-gravity space flips with her colleagues.
Rayyanah Barnawi

Rayyanah Barnawi is set to break multiple barriers and make history on Sunday, as she becomes the first Saudi woman to travel to low-Earth orbit, and land on the International Space Station (ISS). 

She follows in the record-making footsteps of the first Saudi astronaut, nearly 40 years ago. In 1985, Sultan bin Salman became the first Saudi Arabian, Arab, Muslim and also royal to visit space, according to the House of Saud royal website. 

Barnawi, a biochemist with almost a decade of experience in cancer stem cell research, is set to operate as a mission specialist on the commercial space agency Axiom Space’s Mission 2 to conduct stem cell and breast cancer experiments on the ISS. 

The 33-year-old will be taking Arabic coffee on her expected May 21 launch to drink aboard the ISS, and one of her favorite parts of this mission is teaching kids. Barnawi said she plans to practice zero-gravity space flips with colleagues on her eight-day flight. 

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