Anousheh Ansari Space Blog

The Road to Baikonur

Hello World! I don’t know who is reading this. Maybe you are a young girl, curious to know who I am… Maybe a young man who liked my picture in the paper… Maybe someone who always dreamed about flying to space and wants to know how it feels to be close to realizing this dream…

Maybe you heard about Ansari X Prize and want to know what the future holds for me and X Prize… Maybe you are an Iranian who is excited to hear the news of another Iranian-born going to space… Or maybe you are reading this by mistake. 😉

In any case, whoever you are and for whatever reason you happen to be reading this page… Welcome to my blog…

This is the first blog I have ever written. I’m usually a private person, but with what has happened in my life, I feel an obligation to share this experience with everyone out there.

As you probably know I am, in “space lingo,” at L-9. (Translation: 9 days before Launch :-)). I have been in Quarantine in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, since September 2nd. You can read all about Baikonur at Russian Space Web and Wikipedia.


I am sending a few pictures to give you a sense of where I am. This is the same place where the first person in space, Yuri Gagarin, launched from 45 years ago. Also the same place that the first female in space, Valentina Tereshkova, launched from in 1963.

Since those early days of spaceflight, there has been a tradition that the cosmonauts plant a tree upon their return. I hope to plant one when I return. I have included some pictures of Gagarin and Tereshkova’s trees. There are many trees alongside a long walkway that takes you to a view of the vast desert land of Baikonur.

One thing you can say about Russian space launches, there are many traditions and ceremonies. The closer you get to the launch day, the more ceremonies there are. I’m learning about them as I go. These traditions and ceremonies are what make these days very special and memorable. Pictures of our “Fit Check,” when we suited up and went into our capsule to make sure we “Fit” :-), and also of us raising the flags outside our “Cosmonaut Hotel,” are posted on my website as well as the NASA Expedition 14 website.

So now that you know where I am let me tell you why I’m here…

A long, long time ago, in a country far, far away… there was a young girl who had her eyes fixed on the twinkling stars of the night skies over Tehran. Back then the air was not so polluted and you could see many stars in the night skies. Summer time, when they would set up the beds outside on the balcony to sleep, she would lay in her bed and look deep into the mysterious darkness of the universe and think to herself, What’s out there? Is someone out there awake in her bed, and gazing at her in the night sky? Will she ever find her… See her… Will she fly out there and float in the wonderful, boundless freedom of space?

Well, as fate would have it, yes…

If you had asked that young girl, do you want to fly to space? her answer would have been an Enthusiastic YES! If you had asked her, do you think you will fly, the answer would have also been a Hopeful YES! And now that moment is finally near…

I was born in Iran and lived there until age 16, then migrated with my family to the U.S. and got an education in Electrical Engineering, and basically was fortunate to live the American Dream. Don’t get me wrong, the Road to Baikonur was not an easy one and had many ups and downs and obstacles. But what is important is that I stuck to my dream and did not lose my way. I hope that my trip becomes an inspiration for all of you to follow your dreams, wherever they take you. I also hope to show you the universe/space through my eyes and help you see how important space exploration is for our species. We need young imaginative minds to gaze at the skies to help us build a future that will not be earthbound.

Over the next few days before my launch, I will share with you my feelings and sentiments as I approach the Launch day, some details about my flight and the ceremonies and training I’m receiving. I look forward to sharing the next few weeks of my life with each and every one of you…

Anousheh
9 September 2006