Pioneering Saudi astronaut completes space/earth experiment
4 Jun 2023
Pioneering Saudi female astronaut Rayyanah Barnawi has concluded a series of experiments aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
The experiments on behalf of the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center (KFSH&RC) studied immune cell reactions, monitoring responses to inflammation but also providing information about the effects of the space environment upon biology.
Supervision was provided by the hospital’s Riyadh based research team led by Dr. Khalid Abu Khabar, Chairman of the Department of Molecular Biomedicine and Research Science, with the aid of a live broadcast from the station to BioServe Space Technologies’ research centre, working in cooperation with NASA.
The experiments in microgravity were paralleled by Dr. Wejdan Al-Ahmadi working in normal gravity at the BioServe laboratory, in order to compare the results.
Barnawi’s work is part of a campaign by Saudi Arabia to raise the international status of its National Space Strategy, which is ultimately sanctioned by Saudi strongman, Crown Prince and Prime Minister Prince Mohammed bin Salman. It also serves to provide a high profile for Mohammed bin Salman’s drive to reduce the kingdom’s notoriously conservative restrictions on female rights and working women.