Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud (born June 27, 1956) is a former Royal Saudi Air Force pilot who flew aboard the STS-51-G Space Shuttle mission as a Payload Specialist. He is a grandson of King Ibn Saud and is the only Saudi citizen to travel in space. He was also the first Arab, the first Muslim, and the first member of royalty in space
Sultan was born in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the second son of the Minister of Defence and Aviation, Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz. He completed his elementary and secondary education in Riyadh, and earned a master’s in Social and Political Science at Syracuse University in the USA. He is a certified civil pilot (FAA, USA-1978, French License-2005) and a fighter pilot, Colonel (retired)- Royal Saudi Air Force.
Sultan is one of many nephews of the King of Saudi Arabia, Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud.
In 1982, he was appointed to the position of researcher in the Department of International Communications at the Ministry of Information in Saudi Arabia.
In 1984, he served as Deputy Director, Saudi Media Committee for the Saudi athletes at the Olympics in Los Angeles, California. Later that year, when the Department of Advertising was created at the Ministry of Information, he was appointed its Acting Director.
In 1985, he flew as a payload specialist on STS-51-G Discovery (June 17–24, 1985). As one of a seven-member international crew, which also included American and French astronauts, he represented the Arab Satellite Communications Organization (ARABSAT) in deploying their satellite, ARABSAT-1B. Sultan also holds the record for being the youngest person to fly on the Space Shuttle, at the age of 28. Upon conclusion of his flight, he helped to found the Association of Space Explorers, an international organization comprising all astronauts and cosmonauts who have been in space, and served on its Board of Directors for several years.
Portrait of STS 51-G crew
In 1985, Sultan recorded a commercial message that was broadcast on MTV during the Live Aid concert event. His message mentioned his recent trip on the Space Shuttle and was one of 33 such by notable individuals including Caesar Chavez, Coretta Scott King, Carl Sagan, Jesse Jackson and Peter Ueberroth.
In 1985 he was commissioned as an officer into the Royal Saudi Air Force. He holds the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, and is qualified in several military and civilian aircraft.
Patrick Baudry and Prince Sultan in 1985
In 1988 he was elected to the position of Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Disabled Children’s Association (DCA).
In 1992 he was the Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Prince Salman Association for Disability and Research (PSCDR), Chairman of the Coordinating Council of Charities for People with Disabilities and Chairman of the Supervisory Committee for Universal Accessibility.
In 1993 due to his special interest in architecture he agreed to serve as Honorary President of the al-Umran Saudi Association (a society of specialists in the fields of the built environment).
Sultan became the Secretary-General of the Supreme Commission for Tourism & Antiquities (SCTA) in 2000. His term of service was extended for another four years in February 2008.
He enjoys gliding and skiing in his spare time.