Saudi Arabia plans to send female astronaut to space in 2023

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Saudi Arabia plans to launch a training program with the goal of sending its own astronauts, including a woman, into space next year. The kingdom is actively promoting science and technology as part of its wide-ranging Vision 2030 plan to overhaul its economy and reduce its dependency on oil. The plan, championed by Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and de facto leader, Mohammed bin Salman, also calls for greater integration of women into the workforce of the conservative Muslim country. Saudi Arabia lifted a long-standing ban on women driving in 2018. The neighboring United Arab Emirates launched a probe into Mars’ orbit in February 2021 and plans to launch a lunar rover in November.