The Saudi Space Commission (SSC) has revealed the tasks and scientific research that will be conducted during the journey of the Saudis, as part of the crew of the space mission at the International Space Station (ISS), in the second quarter of 2023, within the Kingdom’s program for astronauts.
The Commission announced that the two astronauts, Rayana Bernawi and Ali Al-Qarni, along with the mission crew, will carry out 11 pioneering scientific research experiments in microgravity during the flight, the results of which will enhance the Kingdom’s position globally in space exploration and service to humanity.
This comes to confirm the role of Saudi research centers in making a scientific impact in this field, in addition to implementing three educational awareness experiments, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
SSC indicated that the Saudi experiments in space aim to carry out human research and cell sciences. The artificial rain experiments in microgravity, explaining that the experiment of the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals to generate artificial rain, which simulates the cloud seeding process that is used in the Kingdom and many countries to increase precipitation rates, will help scientists and researchers to devise new ways to provide appropriate conditions for humans - including artificial rain - to live in space colonies on the surface of the Moon and Mars.
The Commission added that during the trip, six experiments would be conducted by Sadeem Company for Research and Development to find out the extent of human adaptation to spaceflight, to understand the effects on human health of being in space, and to determine whether spaceflight is safe for the human brain.
Moreover, SSC said that during these experiments, the functions of the vital organs and systems of humans would be tested in microgravity, such as measuring blood flow to the brain, assessing intracranial pressure, the electrical activity of the brain, and monitoring changes in the optic nerve, which helps make space flights safer for humankind in the future, adding that the experiments will also include taking blood and biological samples to examine biomarkers associated with spaceflight, and to map changes in length, structure, and epigenetics of genes.
According to SSC, the cell science experiments led by the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center and its scientific team, in cooperation with the SSC, include conducting experiments to investigate the inflammatory response of human immune cells in microgravity and studying changes in the lifespan of the messenger (mRNA) during the inflammatory process and by using an immune cell model to simulate the inflammatory response to drug therapy.
In this experiment, the mission crew will take mRNA samples for analysis on Earth. The results of this experiment are expected to contribute to a better understanding of human health while in space and to reveal biomarkers or potential treatments for inflammatory diseases in both space and Earth together.
SSC also aims to involve students in scientific experiments aboard ISS, to enhance their awareness of space science and its contribution to improving the quality of life on Earth by comparing their experiences on Earth with those conducted by the Saudi crew aboard the ISS. The students will be able to communicate with the Saudi astronauts directly by conducting their experiments simultaneously, in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, King Abdulaziz and his Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity “Mawhiba”, Riyadh Schools, and Misk Schools.
SSC efforts aim to prepare future astronauts and engineers through quality education and training programs, participation in scientific experiments, international research, and future missions related to space and contribute to raising the Kingdom's status and achieving the Kingdom’s goals Vision 2030.