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First Female Muslim Space Explorer

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First female Muslim space explorer


After finishing a cosmonaut training in Russia and at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Iranian born Anousheh Ansari, will board the Russian rocket at a launchpad in the Kazakh steppe for a voyage that will make her the first female Muslim space tourist.


"Ever since I can remember it has been in my soul and in my heart. I've always been interested and fascinated by space," Ansari told a press conference at Russia's Star City space mission training centre.


"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 Associated Press quoted Anousheh, 40, as saying in a telephone interview from the launch site at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.


Born in 1966 in Mashhad, Iran, Ansari witnessed the Iranian revolution in 1979. She immigrated to the United States in 1984 as a teenager who did not speak English, and received her Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering and computer science at George Mason University. She received her master's degree at George Washington University, according to Wikipedia.


Anousheh's parents are from Tabriz, located in East Azarbaijan Province. They relocated to Tehran after Anousheh was born in 1966. The family left Tehran for the U.S. after the Islamic revolution.


Prior to co-founding Prodea Systems, Anousheh, along with her husband Hamid and brother-in-law Amir, founded TTI in 1993. The company was acquired by Sonus Networks, Inc. in 2000. Ansari was listed in Fortune magazine's "40 under 40" list in 2001 and honored by Working Woman magazine as the winner of the 2000 National Entrepreneurial Excellence award.


Anousheh described her journey that included learning a new language, earning an engineering degree and starting a telecommunications company that made her a rich businesswoman.


The Iranian born, Dallas business woman will become the first female space tourist on a Soyuz spacecraft that will take off Monday.


In 1966 and after the Islamic revolution, Anousheh left Iran with her parents to the United States, seeking a better opportunity to study science.


And there, after acquiring U.S. citizenship, Anousheh received degrees from George Mason University in Virginia and George Washington University in the U.S. capital and filed patents in the field of telecommunications.


"She is a very determined, resolute woman," Eric Anderson, chairman of Space Adventures, the company that markets the flights, told AFP.


And in 1993, she persuaded her husband leave the company where they worked to establish their own firm that made signal-switching software for phone networks.


Her family invested in technology and space exploration. They had contributed 10 million dollars to the X Foundation, with the aim of encouraging advances in human space flight.


And recently, Prodea, the Ansari family investment firm, has announced the formation of a partnership with Space Adventures, Ltd. and the Federal Space Agency of the Russian Federation (FSA) to create a fleet of suborbital spaceflight vehicles (the Space Adventures Explorer) for global commercial use.


The money formed the Ansari X Prize, awarded in 2004 to Mojave Aerospace Ventures, which has become the world’s most productive aerospace prototype development company, for launching a reusable space ship that reached space twice in 15 days.


Not only that, Anousheh is also studying for a diploma in astronomy.


"I hope that not only my flights, but the life I have lived so far, become an inspiration for all youth all over the world, especially women and girls around the world to pursue their dreams," said Ansari.


"It may seem very hard... but looking at my background they can see that sometimes the impossible can be possible and dreams can come true.


Anousheh hasn’t forgotten her birthplace, one of the staunch opponents of the U.S. policies.


She hanged U.S. and Iranian flags on her spacesuit during Star City press conference, where she was quoted as saying:


"I felt that by wearing the two badges I can demonstrate that both countries had something to do with making me the person who I am today."


"She was very impressive, very bright, and definitely had the drive," said Thanos Voreas, who hired her. "She set a goal and did it. I'm not surprised with what she has accomplished with her life."


Ansari has served on the boards of directors for the Make-a-Wish Foundation of North Texas and Collin County Children’s Advocacy Center. She also works with several other non-profit organizations, including the Ashoka Foundation in its support of social entrepreneurs.


In a telephone interview with SPACE.com, Ansari went through more details about her much anticipated trip.


SPACE(contact admin if its a beneficial link): With only a few days before launch, what is there still left to do?


Anousheh Ansari:I think we pretty much completed all of our training. There are just some final procedural things that we are reviewing. There are also some ceremonial things that we will be doing in the next few days such as press conferences and meetings. We just completed our final fit check today so that was I guess one of most important steps before the launch, which was conducted successfully.


SPACE(contact admin if its a beneficial link): How do your husband and family feel about your trip?


AA: As you can imagine, they're pretty excited. They know how long I have been waiting for this day and how happy I am that it's finally here. I know they're happy for me and at the same time I am sure that they're a bit apprehensive and a little nervous about the whole thing. I especially know my mom is really nervous. They're cheering each other up, trying to stay positive, focusing on the good things, and all praying for my safe return.


SPACE(contact admin if its a beneficial link):What's it been like being far from them during your 6-month training?


AA: It's been the hardest part of being in training. We're a close family; we spend a lot of time together. Not being with them, especially not being with my husband has been the most difficult part of the training for me.


SPACE(contact admin if its a beneficial link): Have you been able to visit each other at all?


AA: Yes, we've had several short visits. During my [training] time, he came to Star City a few times and we met for several weekends in Europe, which meant a shorter flight for both of us. But still, it's not the same because ever since we got married over 15 years ago we've spent almost 24 hours [of each day] together because we work together so it's been very difficult. We've never been apart for such a long time.


SPACE(contact admin if its a beneficial link): And you will never be as far distance wise as you will be in a few days.


AA: That's true too!


SPACE(contact admin if its a beneficial link): What projects did you have to give up to go on this trip?


AA: There were a couple of things that I was negotiating and working on. One of them had to do with installing a telescope on the ISS, which was a very involved program. I was trying to find out some of the activities that different space agencies were initiating to see if I could partner with them to bring a private or commercial aspect to it. Not to use it commercially but to use it for educational purposes for amateur astronomers and other people interested in astronomy.


Unfortunately, that's a very involved program that would have taken at least a year or two to get approved and get the potential documents done and the equipment certified. So I knew for sure that wasn't going to happen on my flight. But it's something that I am going to continue pursuing and it doesn't have to be coinciding with my spaceflight.


SPACE(contact admin if its a beneficial link): How did you find out that Diasuke Enomoto wouldn't be flying? How did it feel to no longer be the back up?


AA: I was actually going back to my room after finishing my day of training and I received a call from "Space Adventures" telling me that I've been moved up to become part of the primary crew.


First I couldn't believe it. I thought they were joking with me and then as I started believing them I was in complete shock and total excitement and you know, I would've screamed if I wasn't embarrassed of the people around me.


SPACE(contact admin if its a beneficial link): Does you consider yourself a role model for Iranian women and women in general?


AA: Well I certainly hope to be. In my work and everything that I have always done, I have tried to be an example.


I hope to inspire everyone-especially young people, women, and young girls all over the world, and in Middle Eastern countries that do not provide women with the same opportunities as men-to not give up their dreams and to pursue them.


It may seem impossible to them at times. But I believe they can realize their dreams if they keep it in their hearts, nurture it, and look for opportunities and make those opportunities happen. Looking back at my life, I'm hoping that I could give them a positive example how that could happen.


SPACE(contact admin if its a beneficial link): When did your fascination with space begin? When was it that you knew this was the path you were going to take?


AA: It wasn't like a special moment that I just realized this is what I wanted to do. It was something that ever since I remember has been in my heart and a part of me. I always was fascinated by space and always wanted to learn more about it and wanted to experience it first hand by flying into space. I don't know how it began or where it began. Maybe I was born with it. Maybe it's in my genes. I don't know. My husband [Hamid Ansari] sometimes jokes and says you know I think you're not from this planet. You may have come from another planet and you're just trying to get back home.


SPACE(contact admin if its a beneficial link):What are you most looking forward to on this trip?


AA:I'm looking forward to the entire experience but I think one of the most special parts of it would be being able to see the Earth from space and to just experience that totality of it and see it as this beautiful blue planet swimming in the darkness of universe. It's something that I think will be very special.


SPACE(contact admin if its a beneficial link): I think other people who have made it to space have similar sentiments. The fragility of Earth often strikes them.


AA: I believe that's part of it. I hope that more and more people will get to have this experience because it does give you a new perspective on life, and on everything else like how to live your life and interact with your environment.


I've talked to different astronauts and cosmonauts and read their books, and think that it's a common theme that you hear from all of them. It does make a big difference. I am hoping that more and more people will be able to have that experience first hand and I think it may make our world a better place to live if more people flew to space.


SPACE(contact admin if its a beneficial link):What experiments will you be participating in while on the trip?


AA: There are a few experiments, a couple of them with the European Space Agency that have to do with the effects of low back pain on astronauts and cosmonauts. The other one is on microbial lifeforms onboard the station and how they spread. I will also be doing some educational programs on the different laws of physics that I'm planning to videotape. Sometimes it's easier to demonstrate things like that in zero gravity environments.


SPACE(contact admin if its a beneficial link): What advancements do you believe will emerge from private exploration of space?


AA: There's an infinite amount of energy resources out in space, that given the right technology and the right environment, we can benefit from.


Development of technology for travel to outer edges of space needs to be developed. And it's a necessity, I think for us, to start thinking about it now and start planning and designing because it's something that's not going to happen overnight.


It will take generations to perfect this type of travel means. So I am hoping to bring more attention to it, bring more private funding to it and to see more innovation happen because of the involvement of the private industry.


SPACE(contact admin if its a beneficial link):On your website you mention that one of your goals as the first space ambassador is "to promote peace and understanding amongst nations." How do you envision space explorations will achieve such a lofty goal?


AA: I think based on what we were just talking about. The spaceflight experience gives you new perspective on your environment and the planet we live on and the understanding of how fragile it is and how our actions impact our environment.


Looking at it from up there you can't see any borders or any differentiation between different races or anything like that and all you see is one planet; one place that all of us have to take care of if we want to be able to live on it for a long time. Our current technologies and everything we have does not afford us the luxury of saying ok if we blow up this planet and make it inhabitable for ourselves we can pack up and live some place else. So on one hand you look at your safe haven on Earth and then you turn around and then you look at the blackness of the universe and see that there is not a lot of habitable planets or moons around you. You sort of feel like you need to take care of the precious gift you've been given and I think that's sort of how I am hoping the message would be.


SPACE(contact admin if its a beneficial link):You don't like the term "space tourist" and call it an "over simplistic label to a complicated process." Can you further explain that?


AA: Absolutely. In a way I take offense when they call me a tourist because it brings that image of someone with a camera around their neck and a ticket in their hand walking to the airport to go on a trip somewhere and coming back to show their pictures. But I think spaceflight is much more than that.


I've been training for it for six months. I think if it is to be compared to an experiment or an experience on Earth it probably is closer to expeditions like people who go to Antarctica or people who climb.


SPACE(contact admin if its a beneficial link): You'll finally conquer space, so what's next for you?


AA: I'm going to go back to work. We're launching [a] new company. At the same time, there's a project that we've been working on for a couple of years now and it's to a point to be ready to be commercially launched. So we're really excited about that and that's one of the major areas I'll be concentrating on upon my return and whatever spare time I have I'll be spending it going around and promoting my educational activities through the "X- Prize Foundation."



Source: (www.)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_www.islamonline(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/cgi-bin/news_service/world_full_story.asp?service_id=2462"]you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_www.islamonline(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/cgi-bin/news_se...service_id=2462[/url]

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From the article it seems she lives within a couple of miles of me. Very good for her to have accomplished so much.

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You would think the Zionist controlled media would be quicker to drag her down, since she's a Muslim. I mean, she was under investigation for insider trading, in the US, because she sold a company (shares) for a few hundred million dollars, which quickly went under. She was sued, though the results (settlement) of the suit were not made public.

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'The family left Tehran for the U.S. after the Islamic revolution.'




Didn't take a rocket scientist to know it was time to 'beat feet' out of Iran. If they stayed, what are the odds she would have a job, let alone be so sucseessful ? About 1,000,000,000 to 1, I'd say. Iranians can't even gain access to this web site because of government censoring of the internet.

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'The family left Tehran for the U.S. after the Islamic revolution.'

Didn't take a rocket scientist to know it was time to 'beat feet' out of Iran. If they stayed, what are the odds she would have a job, let alone be so sucseessful ? About 1,000,000,000 to 1, I'd say. Iranians can't even gain access to this web site because of government censoring of the internet.




I am not a supporter of the Iranian Regime but I think it might help you if you got a better perspective on that Country.


I suppose you are unaware that 50% of those graduating from University are Women?


Iran is a very complex country and full of contradictions, your simplistic ideas show a lack of depth and perspective.


In case your recall is not too good could I remind you that Iran supported the US led invasion of Afganistan, providing logistic support as well as securing the Iranian Afganistan border. Their special reward for that was to be labeled as part of the mythical 'Axis of Evil'. Are you aware that this was one factor that turned the peoples opinions against the then more moderate and progressive Government and saw a resurgence of Conservatism.


There are many complexities in that country and the people deserve better consideration than you are giving them.



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