Tunisia unveils female candidates for first African astronaut in space as part of 2024 mission

Tunisia unveils female candidates for first African astronaut in space as part of 2024 mission
2 min read
14 August, 2022
The selected candidate, who will participate in a mission set to take place at the International Space Station in 2024, will thereby become the first African in space.
The chosen candidate will participate in a mission entailing physics and medicine at the International Space Station in two years time [Getty]

Tunisia announced on Saturday that it is preparing to send its first astronaut for a mission at the International Space Station by naming the shortlisted candidates, one of whom will be chosen for the role due to take place in 2024.

The astronaut will be selected from a roster of eight female nominees, all of whom are fighter pilot graduates from the Borj El-Amri aviation school, eventually making them the first Tunisian and African astronaut to go into space.

The Tunisian Telnat group announced the candidates’ names during a special ceremony on Saturday, coinciding with the 66th commemoration of Women’s Day, which is celebrated in the North African country on 13 August.

Among those names are: Hala Awassa, Ibtihal Youssef, Wafa El-Baldi-El-Yomna Dalali, Olfa Lajnef, Rahma Trabelsi, Hind Safferi and Malika Mabrouk.

The nominees expressed their desire to take up this 'historic' challenge and to hoist the Tunisian national flag at the International Space Station, as well as contributing to the country's scientific advances.

The candidates were shortlisted on the basis of physical and psychological criteria, among other strict benchmarks.

Mohamed Frikha, the Director General of Telnet told the Turkish Anadolu agency that the candidates will "soon undergo extensive medical and physical tests" both in Tunisia and abroad, before selecting two candidates who will then "go to Russia where they will take part in specific training in the Russian Space Agency’s training centres for one year".

"One candidate will then be chosen to complete the mission in 2024 in the field of physics and medicine, which will last 10 days," he added.

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Frikha said that the female nominees are "the pride of the Tunisian woman who they are representing in the best possible way," and that their candidacy is "a testament to their courage and will to honour their country," according to the Tunisian daily Espace Manager.

The Telnet group, a software company, is the manufacturer behind the first Tunisian satellite Challenge 1, which was launched in March last year.

In August last year, the company signed an agreement with the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, to select and train a Tunisian astronaut who will then go on to participate in 2024's mission.