“Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe.”—Gail Devers
Anousheh Ansari, 40, the first Iranian-American to go for a space tour, has seen fate touch her feet, when this Dallas Businesswomen realized her childhood dream after 25 years.
Breaking three records- The first female tourist, first female Muslim and first Iranian in orbit, Anousheh waved her final bye when she blasted off off on a Russian Soyuz rocket on Monday, heading to the International Space Station (ISS) with the orbiter's new crew.
In her 10 day space trip and the 14th long term mission, Anousheh will be companied by US astronaut Michael Lopez and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin.
After the Iranian revolution in 1979, Anousheh and her parents left Iran when she was just 16. Since her early days, she had space in her soul and heart.
Her family emigrated to the United States in 1984 because they wanted their daughter to pursue her passion for the sciences to the fullest extent possible.
Ansari began work at MCI after graduation, where she met her husband, Hamid Ansari. In 1993, she persuaded her husband and her brother-in-law Amir Ansari to co-found Telecom Technologies Inc. using their savings and corporate retirement accounts. The company was acquired by Sonus Networks Inc. in 2000.
The adventurous lady dipped into her personal finance for the sake of space and has spent nearly $20 millions for her space tour, but Ansari could afford it since her company was sold for about $550 million in stock from the acquiring company.
Ansari celebrated her 40th birthday this month, and just a week later she got the most desired gift. She became the first woman space tourist.
The liftoff came less than a day, after the U.S. space shuttle Atlantis pulled away from the orbiting station and began its journey back to Earth. According to the Russian space officials who monitored the launching from Korolyov, outside Moscow, reported that the spacecraft entered ambit just 10 minutes after take off.
Vladimir Solovyov, the chief of Russia's mission control base, said that everything went as anticipated and the launch was sure-fire.
Soyuz is a series of spacecraft designed by Sergey Korolyov for the Soviet Union's space program. The Soyuz succeeded the Voskhod spacecraft design and were originally built as part of the Soviet Manned Lunar program.
The spacecraft are launched by the Soyuz launch vehicle, as part of the Soyuz program and the later missions of the Zond program. They were later used to carry cosmonauts to and fro, from the Salyut and Mir space stations and are now used for transport to and fro from the International Space Station.
Ansari, the fourth paying visitor to ride a Russian spacecraft, Mikhail Tyurin and Michael Lopez, 48 hours after blasting off from Russia's Baikonur base, were to join a German astronaut, Thomas Reiter, at the station.
Due to the faulty oxygen generator, there was appearance of smoke or vapors on the ISS. Authorities told the three-man crew to put on protective suits with goggles, but said the situation was under control.
Early Wednesday, the Soyuz is due to wharf with the space station. That crew, American Michael Lopez-Alegria and Russian Mikhail Tyurin, are starting a six-month stint in space. Ansari will return to Earth after ten days with the Expedition 13 crew on the Soyuz TMA-8 capsule.
During her tour, Ansari will conduct scientific experiments for the European Space Agency ESA into the effects of anaemia and backache in zero gravity.
During their stay, four space walks are also planned and Tyurin will also be seen driving a golf ball, advertising for a Canadian company.
Three unmanned progress supply ships and at least one US space shuttle are also due to dock at the ISS in the coming months.
Space Shuttle Orbiter Atlantis, one of the space shuttle fleet belonging to the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), exited from the station on Sunday to give way to the approaching Soyuz capsule.
It is scheduled to land in Florida, on Wednesday, after completing three spacewalks to install a truss and two solar arrays on the orbital outpost.
Soyuz will orbit the planet 22 times as it moves into the same flight path as the ISS, which flies around 400 kilometres above the earth. The capsule is due to dock at 0525 GMT Wednesday.
During the take off, when the gauntries finally fell away from the rocket and smoke wallowed below, at a safe distance from the launching pad, Ansari's relatives gasped, and were wide eyed. Her mother, Fakhri Shahidi, clasped her hands in front of her chest as if in prayer.
Tears welled out from the eyes of Ansari's sister, Atousa Raissyan, when the rocket lifted into the air, while Hamid watched the liftoff stoically.
On September 16, about twenty four hours before her departure, an interview was aired with Anousheh Ansari from Channel 4 of Iran national TV. The interview was a live chat with her speaking from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for the show ‘Night's Sky’, a programme on current events of astronomy that frequently hosts Iranian researchers and scientists.
The hosts of the show made wishes for her success, and also thanked her on behalf of Iranians. Ansari in return thanked and notably called for people to witness how hard work and aspiration makes seemingly-impossible possible. She urged women and men to think free.
On her spacesuit, Anousheh Ansari had indented to wear the U.S. flag and the version of the Iranian flag that predated the 1979 Islamic Revolution, 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 have the Iranian colors instead.
The journey is the culmination of a lifetime of interest in space for Ansari, a dream seen long time back and the final realization of it 25 years later.