Anousheh Ansari The first Iranian astronaut and first female space tourist

Anousheh Ansari, born Anousheh Raissian on 12 September 1966 in Mashhad, Iran is the first Iranian Astronaut. On September 18, 2006, just a few days after her 40th birthday, she became the first female space tourist, the first female Muslim, and first Iranian in space. Anousheh Ansari is the Iranian-American co-founder and chairman of Prodea Systems Inc. Her previous business accomplishments include serving as co-founder and CEO of Telecom Technologies Inc. (TTI). The Ansari family is also the title sponsor of the Ansari X PRIZE.

Anousheh Ansari and her parents moved to Tehran shortly after she was born. She immigrated to the United States in 1984 as a teenager who did not speak English. She immersed herself in education, earning a bachelor’s degree in electronics and computer engineering from George Mason University, followed by a master’s degree in electrical engineering from George Washington University.

After graduation, Ansari began work at MCI, where she met her future husband, Hamid Ansari. They married in 1991.

Anousheh Ansari dreamed of going into space since she was a little girl in Iran. Ultimately, Anousheh would build a lifetime of accomplishments in a few short decades, from creating a multi-million-dollar business to driving technological change to blasting into space. She hopes her tale of determination, struggle, and ultimate triumph will inspire children and women everywhere to dream big, study hard and see obstacles as merely problems to be solved.

On 18 September 2006, Soyuz TMA-9 spacecraft blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, en route to the International Space Station (ISS), with Anousheh Ansari becoming only the fourth (and first female) space tourist. She fulfilled the dream of going into space since she was a little girl in Iran.

Anousheh Ansari in Space

During her eight-day stay onboard the International Space Station, Ansari agreed to perform a series of experiments on behalf of the European Space Agency. She conducted four experiments, including:

  • Researching the mechanisms behind anemia.
  • How changes in muscles influence lower back pain.
  • Consequences of space radiation on ISS crew members and different species of microbes that have made a home for themselves on the space station.

She also became the first person to publish a weblog from space. Ansari returned to Earth after ten days with the Expedition 13 crew on the Soyuz TMA-8 capsule.

Ansari intended to wear the U.S. flag on her spacesuit and a simple version of the Iranian flag, to honor the two countries that have contributed to her life. At the insistence of the Russian and U.S. governments, she did not wear the Iranian flag, but wore the Iranian colors instead. She and her husband have said no political message was intended, despite the tension in US-Iran relations, which had dominated world headlines in the weeks leading up to her historic launch.

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