It will be the first Gulf nation to strengthen ties with private U.S. space companies, as Saudi Arabia will launch two astronauts to the International Space Station aboard Elon Musk's SpaceX capsule, according to three sources.

An anonymous source said the contract was signed privately with Houston's Axiom Space earlier this year, which arranges and manages private missions on U.S. spacecraft for tourists and researchers.

According to the sources, two Saudi astronauts will ride SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule to the space station early next year for a roughly weeklong stay.

Saudi Arabia will be the first country from their region to launch a private spacecraft into space.

There was no immediate comment from Axiom