Tunisia is set to send its first woman astronaut into space, after shortlisting eight women as candidates for the first Tunisian and African female astronaut project.
According to Africa News, this selection came at Telnet’s Headquarters as Tunisia celebrated Women’s day. It is as a result of a partnership in August 2021 between Tunisia and Roscosmos to launch a Tunisian female citizen to the International Space Station (ISS) in the foreseeable future. As a result, according to Telnet’s Director-General, the ISS mission will be in 2024.
All the selected women are fighter pilots who graduated from the Borj Al-Amri Aviation School. Furthermore, they are Tunisian Air Force Corps members and have extensive experience in several challenging missions as a result. This is because the selection process requires strict conditions in terms of scientific, physiological and physical demands.
During the unveiling, the current occupants of the ISS sent a message to the Tunisian candidates, expressing their support for the project and their expectations to welcome the first Tunisian astronaut in her upcoming mission. The female candidates also expressed their willingness to take up this historic challenge, raise the Tunisian national flag on the ISS and contribute to scientific advances in the service of humanity.
The candidates will subsequently undergo extensive physical and medical tests in Tunisia and abroad, from which two of the candidates will further travel to Russia. The candidates who travel to Russia will then undergo specific space-related training at one of the Russian Space agency’s training centres. This training will last for a year, after which will come the mission to the International Space Station.
Mohamed Frikha noted that all the candidates are the pride of the Tunisian woman and represent her in the best way.
He added that their candidacy for this mission is a testament to their courage and willingness to honour the country and make history in a field as complicated as Space. Frikha also added that the astronauts will handle a scientific mission in Physics and Medicine and that the mission will contribute to the service of humanity. Finally, Frikha stated that the project received the support and encouragement of Tunisia at the highest level.
Tunisia is a party to and has ratified the Agreement on the Rescue of Astronauts, the Return of Astronauts and the Return of Objects Launched into Outer Space (Rescue and Return Agreement). The country is also a party to the Outer Space Treaty and the Liability Convention.