Saudi Arabia plans to send two astronauts to the International Space Station aboard a capsule from Elon Musk’s SpaceX company, according to Bloomberg.
With this move, the Kingdom will become the latest Gulf country to strengthen relations with private US space companies. The sources said that an agreement was signed earlier this year with the company “Axiom Space” in Houston, which organizes and operates special missions to space aboard a US spacecraft for researchers and tourists.
According to the sources, under the agreement, the two Saudi astronauts will launch aboard the “Crow Dragon” capsule from “SpaceX” on a trip to the International Space Station for about a week early next year. The two will be the first Saudis to go into space aboard a private spacecraft.
Private US companies are increasingly playing a major role in sending astronauts to the space station as NASA, which is now largely focused on returning humans to the moon.
The value of the Axiom agreement with Saudi Arabia was not clear. A single seat in Crew Dragon during the first Axiom mission sold for $55 million.