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First Arab female astronaut reaches space station


The first female Arab astronaut to go to space has arrived at the International Space Station (ISS).


Rayyanah Barnawi is one of two Saudis on Axiom Space's second private mission, which took off on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the US on Sunday.


During her scheduled 10 days in orbit on the ISS, the 34-year-old biomedical scientist plans to carry out stem cell and breast cancer research.


She hopes to inspire women from all backgrounds in the Middle East.

In a video filmed in space before she reached the ISS, she said: "To the people around the world, the future is very bright. I would like you to dream big, believe in yourselves and believe in humanity."


Ms Barnawi is joined on Axiom Mission 2 by fellow Saudi mission specialist Ali Alqarni, the second male astronaut from the Gulf kingdom to go to space, and two Americans, commander Peggy Whitson and pilot John Shoffner.


The crew travelled to space inside SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft, which sat atop the Falcon 9 rocket launched from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 21:37 GMT on Sunday.

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