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Axiom Space aims to fly first Saudi female astronaut

Axiom Space says it’s working with the Saudi Space Commission to send two spacefliers from the Arab kingdom, including the first Saudi woman to go into orbit, to the International Space Station as early as next year.

The inclusion of a female astronaut is particularly notable for Saudi Arabia — where women were forbidden to drive motor vehicles until 2018, and where the status of women is still a controversial subject.

Houston-based Axiom Space and the Saudi Space Commission announced their partnership today at the International Astronautical Congress in Paris. In a news release, the Saudi commission said its participation in Axiom’s Ax-2 mission is part of the nation’s effort “to conduct scientific experiments and research for the betterment of humanity in priority areas such as health, sustainability and space technology.” It acknowledged that including a woman astronaut “will represent a historical first for the Kingdom.”

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Falcon Heavy rocket aces a triple landing

Falcon Heavy launch
SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket lifts off from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida. (SpaceX via YouTube)

More than a year after SpaceX sent its Falcon Heavy rocket on a majestic test launch, the second Falcon Heavy put a satellite in orbit today for its first customer.

Then, for the first time, all three of the rocket’s reusable booster cores landed safely and successfully. SpaceX also recovered both halves of the rocket’s nose cone and intends to reuse those components as well.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk celebrated the day’s successes with a string of exuberant tweets, punctuated with hearts and rocket emojis.

“The Falcons have landed,” he wrote.

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Elon Musk says Saudis will back Tesla privatization

Elon Musk with Tesla Semi and Roadster
Tesla CEO Elon Musk introduces the Semi truck and an updated Roadster at an unveiling event in 2017. (Tesla via YouTube)

When Tesla CEO Elon Musk said he had “funding secured” for a plan to take the company private, he was referring to the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund — whose executives had been pressing him for almost two years to take such a step.

That’s according to an update that Musk posted to Tesla’s website today. The update sheds more light on Aug. 7’s cryptic and seemingly sudden tweets revealing that he was considering a plan to buy up shares from whoever wanted to sell, at a premium price of $420 a share.

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