09-15-2006, 03:30 PM
Have U heard about?
Ansarie, the first Iranian -US woman in space pays 20 Million dollars for a round trip ticket.
09-15-2006, 03:45 PM
http://images.usatoday.com/_common/_images/clear.gif THE ANSARI FILE http://images.usatoday.com/_common/_images/clear.gif
Age: 39; born Sept. 12, 1966, in Mashad, Iran.
Education: Bachelor's degree in electronics and computer engineering, George Mason University, 1989; master's degree in electrical engineering, George Washington University, 1992.
Family: Husband, Hamid Ansari. No children.
Career highlights: Chairman and co-founder of Prodea Systems, a home technology company. Previously chairman and co-founder of Telecom Technologies Inc., a telecommunications software company.
All her life, Anousheh Ansari has specialized in bold forays into the unknown.
As a teenager in 1984, she came to the USA from Iran without knowing English. In her 20s, she and her husband ran up their credit cards to start a software firm that they later sold for $500 million.
Now the 39-year-old tech entrepreneur is on the brink of her biggest adventure.
This month, she will rocket into outer space as the first woman to pay for a trip in orbit. Her 11-day journey will include flights on a Russian spaceship and accommodations aboard the International Space Station, a laboratory circling 220 miles above the Earth.
Ansari has dreamed since childhood of exploring the universe. But she gave up on becoming an astronaut because of the strained relationship between her native country and her adopted home, and her pursuit of a more earthly and lucrative line of work. "It's been something I've always longed for and wanted to do," she says. "That I'm actually going to get to do it is hard to believe."
In an interview, Ansari declined to specify how big a check she wrote to the Russians for her trip and the many months of training. She suggests the sum is similar to the $20 million that fellow Americans Dennis Tito and Gregory Olsen paid the Russian Space Agency for their own space trips in 2001 and 2005, respectively. Ansari will also be the first person of Iranian descent to fly in space. She is not the first Middle Easterner: Salman Abdulaziz Al-Saud of Saudi Arabia launched into orbit on the space shuttle in 1985 as a researcher.
This is not Ansari's first multimillion-dollar outlay on outer space. She and her family also financed the X-Prize, a $10 million reward offered to the first private company to launch a human into space. Aerospace pioneer Burt Rutan claimed the prize in 2004 and is now working on a bigger ship to carry paying passengers to space by the end of the decade.
By the exacting standards of space missions, where minute details are spelled out well in advance, Ansari's trip is last-minute. Russian officials asked her only last week whether she'd like to fly on a mission scheduled to launch Sept. 18. The invitation came after the Russians bumped Japanese space tourist Daisuke Enomoto from the flight, citing unspecified medical reasons.
The assignment means Ansari, who had been training since March as Enomoto's backup, will not perform some research she had wanted to do in orbit. Still, she has no regrets about flying on short notice.
"I couldn't say no to that opportunity," she says. As for the research, "I'm hoping that will become a reason for me to fly again."
The Plano, Texas, resident emphasizes that she's going to space for the experience, not because it's a privilege few can afford.
Ansari craves the sensation of being weightless and "looking back and seeing the Earth for the first time as a blue, beautiful ball and the darkness of the universe as a background," she says. "I am not doing it because ... I want to be part of an exclusive club. This should be something that everyone should be able to do."
Growing up in Tehran, Ansari says some nights sleeping outside on the family home's balcony sparked her to dream about what was among the stars above.
"I would spend hours and hours gazing at the stars and wondering, what's out there?" Ansari says. "Sometimes I wondered if ... maybe there was another girl like me on another planet some place gazing at the stars and thinking about the same things."
After the Iranian revolution in 1979, her father's company was shut down by the new Islamic government. Though she knew only Farsi and French when her family immigrated to the USA, Ansari mastered English quickly enough to graduate from college within five years of her arrival.
In 1993, Ansari convinced her husband that they should cash in their MCI stock, leave the company and strike out on their own. They founded Telecom Technologies, which made software for the telecommunications industry, and sold it in 2000. This year she helped start Prodea Systems, a home-technology company.
At the spartan Russian cosmonauts' center where she is training, Ansari has endured trials such as memorizing the details of spacecraft systems, trying to learn Russian and being spun in a centrifuge to test her response to the rigors of launch. She claims it's fun.
"Some people are sick that way," she says with a laugh. "I'm one of those people. I actually enjoy that."
Reshaping an image
The Russians have scrambled to make the toilet on Ansari's Soyuz space pod suitable for a woman. There have been no other concessions. During the two-day trip to the station, Ansari will get privacy only if her crewmates, U.S. astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin, float into one cramped chamber while she stays in the other.
Once aboard the much bigger space station, Ansari can go where she wants "as long as I don't break anything," she says. She plans to spend her time documenting her experience on film and voice recordings and also hopes to do some educational activities.
Iranians inside and outside the country of her birth have showered her with support, says Ansari, a U.S. citizen who calls herself a "liberal Muslim." She hopes to return the goodwill.
"I'm hoping by portraying a different image of an Iranian woma I'll be able to help people's minds open to the possibility of Iranians not all being terrorists," she says.