No big deal, right?
Warmly greeted by the seven astronauts living aboard the International Space Station, a four-member crew joined the celebration in a live TV broadcast shortly after their Freedom capsule arrived at the orbiting laboratory Monday morning.
Two of the Axiom crewmembers from Saudi Arabia shared their enthusiasm and gratitude with people back home, speaking in Arabic and English. Along with former NASA astronaut and lead participant Peggy Whitson are pilot John Shoffner and Saudis Ali Alqarni and Rayyanah Barnawi, which brings the number of space station residents to 11 for the next eight days.
Oh, yeah, the Saudis have an astronaut program now. With men and women in it. Because that wouldn’t have been significant a mere thirty years ago.
Bit by bit, we claw our way into the future.
PS: I know that Elon Musk annoys the living crap out of some people, including quite a few who work in space. TRUST ME on this. But we are tantalizingly close to a true reusable SSTO spaceship; and we didn’t have that before Musk started turning razmataz into hardware. The whole thing reminds me a lot of Bob Heinlein’s THE MAN WHO SOLD THE MOON, which you really should read if you want to understand Musk. If only because I’m reasonably certain that he has.