- Saudi Arabia plans to send its first female astronaut into space, Axiom confirmed to Insider.
- The country bought two seats on a SpaceX ship as part of a plan to send Saudi astronauts to the ISS.
- The astronauts will be the first from the nation to travel to space with a private company.
Saudi Arabia plans to send its first female astronaut to the International Space Station on board a SpaceX ship, Axiom, the company that made the deal, confirmed to Insider.
A representative for Axiom Space said the company was collaborating with the Saudi Space Commission to train two astronauts and prepare them to conduct research in space.
The purchase is part of a larger plan to send two Saudi astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS), three anonymous sources confirmed to Reuters.
The sources added that the deal with Houston-based Axiom Space, a private company, was signed earlier this year.
"Space belongs to all of humanity, which is one of the reasons Axiom Space is pleased to welcome our new partnership with the Saudi Space Commission to train and fly Saudi astronauts, including the first female Saudi astronaut," Michael Suffredini, Axiom Space's CEO, said at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Paris.
The two seats are on board a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, which will travel to the ISS, where the Saudi astronauts are expected to stay for about a week, per Reuters.
The astronauts will be the first from the nation to travel to space with a private company. The mission will be the second space trip arranged by Axiom, according to Reuters' sources.
Axiom operates missions to and from the ISS and is also building the first commercial destination in space, Axiom Station, according to its website. The company launched the first private astronaut mission to the ISS in April. The four-man civilian crew also traveled on a SpaceX Crew Dragon spaceship, per NASA.
Private space companies such as Axiom are infringing on a uniquely diplomatic position between the US and other nations, which was traditionally controlled by NASA, Reuters reported.
Earlier this month, Axiom announced it had signed a deal with Turkey's government to send the first Turkish astronaut to space.
Russian cosmonauts were also set to fly to the ISS with SpaceX under a new NASA deal with Russia's space agency, Reuters reported.
SpaceX and the Saudi Space Commission did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment made outside normal working hours.