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Posted by on Sep 17, 2006 in At TMV | 3 comments

Anousheh Ansari : Iran to USA…and now Outer Space

While the USA and Iran continue their war of words on this planet earth, here is an Iranian-born American citizen ready to touch the skies in a spacecraft on Monday.

On September 18, Ansari and two astronauts are scheduled to blast off in a Russian Soyuz TMA-9 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Their space flight is scheduled to begin at 8:09 a.m. Moscow time.

Anousheh Ansari, a United States citizen of Iranian origin, will become the world’s first woman space tourist. Her journey will last for 10 days and will include a two-day trip to the International Space Station.

Ansari follows in the footsteps of the first space tourist, US entrepreneur Dennis Tito, who flew in April 2001, South African Mark Shuttleworth in April 2002 and American Greg Olsen in October 2005.

As a child, Ansari watched the skies, stars and moon in her home and dreamt that one day she would be close to them. Now at age 40, after an improbable journey that’s included making a home in a new country, learning a new language, earning an engineering degree and starting a telecommunications company that made her rich, this Dallas businesswoman is indeed excited about her space journey.

“I’ve always been fascinated with space and always wondered about the mysteries of space and wanted to be able to experience it firsthand,” the Texas woman said in a telephone interview from the launch site at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

“She says she is eager to see Iran from space — she hasn’t been back since emigrating to the United States — and hopes to inspire girls in her homeland to study science. Ansari says she’s received e-mail messages from many of them, although her flight has received scant attention in Iran. She is, after all, an American citizen.

“Ansari and her family left Iran a few years after the Islamic revolution, in part because the opportunities for a young girl to study science were becoming limited there.

“Her space ride will cost about $20 million. Ansari can afford it because she and her husband sold their company in 2000 for about $550 million in stock from the acquiring company.”

But then how many people with all the money in the world think of such a ‘high adventure’!!!

(The Russian Soyuz spacecraft at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.)

The BBC says: “Ms Ansari will wear both the American and Iranian flags on her space suit. She says she wanted to recognise both countries’ contributions to her life.

“I feel very close to the Iranian people and the culture of the country ‘I was born in Iran and lived there until the age of 16 and then moved to the United States,’ she said in an interview recently. ‘So I have a lot of roots in Iran and feel very close to the Iranian people and the culture of the country.’

“Her trip has received limited attention in Iran, although a few days before she was scheduled to blast into space, an Iranian TV channel aired a 70-minute interview with her.

“Ms Ansari says she will write the first blog from space. She says that her ultimate goal is to bring her experience and ‘the ability to fly to space to more and more people and to inspire young woman and men to go into the fields related to space.’

“She has already attracted praise from Iranians and Americans alike on her blog.”

Let us celebrate this enterprising woman’s adventurous odyssey into space wearing both American and Iranian flags. When will the American and the Iranian leaders learn? When will they ever learn?