Star Trek Fan To Be First Female Space Tourist

By Michelle
July 24, 2006 - 5:58 PM

A Star Trek fan who grew up in Tehran and made a fortune in telecommunications is about to become the first female space tourist, paying nearly twenty million dollars for a trip on a Russian Soyuz rocket to the International Space Station.

Anousheh Ansari, who told London's Sunday Times that she grew up watching Star Trek reruns in Iran before the Islamic cultural revolution, said that she never tired of telling her friends that she would "see the stars." Now 39-year-old Ansari will experience her dream "to get outside the planet and see the universe for what it really is."

Ansari was required to pass medical tests and to train at Star City, the space centre near Moscow that has prepared every cosmonaut since Yuri Gagarin in 1961. In addition to learning to survive G-force fluctuations, she was taught to fire a gun to protect herself in case of an emergency landing in Russia's steppes.

"Ansari expressed an interest to fly aboard one of our craft late last year. She’s very passionate about space,” said Sergei Kostenko of US-based Space Adventures, which has makes contracts with the Russian space agency to place tourists on flights. In an effort to enable more people to travel into space, Ansari is working with Space Adventures to develop a fleet of sub-orbital spaceships for commercial use and donated heavily toward the prize won by SpaceShipOne, which carried out the first manned space flight funded by private investors.

She also hopes to be a role model for Iranian women, most of whom are denied the opportunity to enjoy the sort of career Ansari had after moving to the US at 17, five years after the Iranian revolution. Ansari earned a degree in electrical engineering and created Telecom Technologies with her husband. At 35, she was one of two women to be featured in a Fortune magazine list of America’s 40 most successful business figures under the age of 40.

The People's Daily Online has photos of Ansari preparing for her flight.

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