Saudi astronauts land safely on Earth after successful space mission

RIYADH: Saudi astronauts Rayyanah Barnawi and Ali Alqarni, and Americans Peggy Whitson and John Schoffner, made a safe splashdown off the coast of Florida early Wednesday morning, after completing a successful eight-day Ax-2 mission on the International Space Station.

The 12-hour journey of the Dragon capsule back to Earth from the ISS was watched live by many Saudi citizens, who expressed pride at the contribution of the two Saudi astronauts to space research.

“I was more nervous watching their return to Earth as I learned it is often difficult for a returning spacecraft to reenter Earth’s atmosphere,” said 15-year-old Reema, a high school student based in Dhahran. “I stayed up all night to watch the live coverage of their arrival, and it was worth it, I felt proud to be Saudi.”

“I feel privileged to be living in a country aiming to empower its citizens with continued support from initiatives, workshops, scholarships, working day and night to mark Saudis’ footsteps in all fields,” said 34-year-old engineer Yasser, a chemical engineer based in Jubail Industrial City.

Princess Reema bint Bandar Al-Saud, the Kingdom’s ambassador to the US, tweeted: “Filled with pride as I watch our astronauts and the Ax-2 team land safely back to Earth after their journey to ISS where they conducted scientific experiments that will further the frontier of scientific innovation and inspired a whole nation to dream and explore.”

Experiments in space

Barnawi and Alqarni successfully completed 14 science experiments in space. Three were part of the education outreach microgravity experiments, which involved over 12,000 students from 47 locations across the Kingdom.

The education outreach experiments, designed for students to think critically, were reportedly focused on demonstrating differences in fluid behavior on Earth and in microgravity, explore the aerodynamic behavior of different kite shapes on the ISS, and showcase the effects of the external environment of space on the available modes of heat transfer.

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