Anousheh Ansari Space Blog

September 20, 2006

Email From Space!

Filed under: Personal Spaceflight,Space Explorer — by Peter @ 6:56 pm

Subject: Hello from Peter Diamandis, Welcome to Space!

Hi Anousheh-

Welcome to your ISS Home! Earth watched your beautiful launch on the Internet and TV. You looked great… all smiles the entire time!

Here’s my blog entry of your launch (how it looked from NASA TV).


My Dear Peter,

You were on my mind the entire time. I remembered our first meeting with you sitting across the table and passionately talking about goals of the X Prize foundation. I was enjoying watching you make a sales pitch with such a passion.

You had me sold from the first minute but your passion was contagious and I wanted you to finish telling your story. I arrived in the station a few hours ago and it feels like home. I have been making notes all along the launch and I will be posting a blog on the trip.

The launch was very smooth. The trip to the station felt long but it was worth it. I cannot keep my eyes off the windows. Earth is magnificent and peaceful from up here. You don’t see any of those awful things you hear on the news, from up here.

The Earth is so beautiful and if we could all see it this way I’m sure we would do everything in our power to preserve it. I truly hope that more and more people get to experience this trip first hand. But more than anyone else I hope that you will experience this trip soon, because I cannot think of a more deserving person….

with my best space wishes 🙂

September 17, 2006

The Day Has Come

Filed under: Space Explorer — by Anousheh @ 3:09 pm

I’m hours away from my flight…

It is hard to believe that I’m here. It is still all a daze…

It is hard to explain my feelings… a strange mix of excitement and anxiety. Strangely enough my anxiety is for those who await me here on Earth. My family… I know how hard this must be on them. I must say I’m not enjoying this stage of it all. I just want to get the launch behind me and start floating in the wonderful weightlessness of space.

In a way I think that when I start floating I will be free from all fears, all anxieties, all expectations… It willl only be me… free from it all…

As I await this wonderful moment of weightlessness, everything here is starting to weigh more… I can feel the pressure of the air I’m breathing on my chest and it is getting heavier… It feels like waiting in a doctor’s office for the test results.

Everyone told me Greg Olson was incredibly calm on the day of his flight. I asked Greg how could he keep himself so calm. He said that when he was sitting there, inside the Soyuz, he knew for sure that he would be flying and no one could stop him anymore. No more doctors, no more exams, no more ceremonies… I cannot wait to get there…

I had to take a break from writing, to go visit my family. They were all here… As soon as we saw each other behind the glass wall the tears started rolling down. It was hard for everyone. My sister Atousa was trying hard to be the strong one and fighting her tears but there was no use fighting it. After we got the crying out of the way, we continued to talk and joke around and I felt everyone was getting more at ease. I certainly was. All the butterflies from the morning were gone.

I know I will be back soon and will be able to hug them all and tell them all about my trip. My brother-in-law Amir was focusing on taping the whole event and my husband Hamid was being the coordinator of the group and keeping his mind off the flight. I looked in his eyes and saw love and admiration mixed with anxiety…

We said our goodbyes since I will only get a glimpse of them on my way to the rocket. It is almost 7 pm Baikonur time and I was supposed to sleep an hour ago. They will come to wake us up at 1:00 am to prepare and head out for the launch pad.

I feel very calm and content… a sort of a Zen-like feeling… It is all going to be fine…

I want to thank you all for following along with me and thank you for all your kind and supportive words… I was never a very social person and have only a handful of close friends. I feel like in a matter of a week I have new friends all over the world and I look forward to telling you all about the ride up to the ISS.

I will be signing off now for a couple of days since the internet onboard the Soyuz is not working 😉 But my husband and Peter will be reporting on my activities from the ground.

Live Long and Prosper my friends –

September 16, 2006

Rendez-Vous at X Prize Cup

Filed under: Space Explorer — by Anousheh @ 5:07 pm

I wanted to let you all know that I will be at the X Prize Cup event in Las Cruces New Mexico October 20-21. You will see me roaming around and spending a lot of time in the children’s tent 🙂 That’ s where I spent a lot of time last year. They have cool simulators and I’m a kid at heart so I stood in line with the 12- and 13-year-olds to play with the simulators.

The event last year was a pre-opening event and it was attended by a lot of space enthusiasts. There was a wonderful positive space energy in the air. 🙂

We had an excellent education program, and the kids and adults enjoyed it equally. I was so excited when X Prize Foundation was able to get support from the state of New Mexico to start this annual event. It is the best space event I have attended. There was so much excitement and this year it will be even better.

There are a few exciting competitions that will be fun to watch, like the Lunar Lander Challenge and the Space Elevator Games… and then you have the Rocket Man.

The X Prize Cup is a reminder that the Foundation is committed to inspiring technological advancement for commercial space — and dedicated to educating young imaginative minds about the potential of space.

If you see me around, come and say Hi 🙂 and tell me that you read this blog and I will give you my autographed personal patch.

I hope to see you there. Bring your telescope or binoculars — the night sky is beautiful to watch.

September 15, 2006

My Favorite Things!

Filed under: Space Explorer — by Anousheh @ 8:15 pm

Growing up, one of my favorite movies was The Sound of Music. I still remember a few of the lyrics in both Farsi and English. The song I like most is “My Favorite Things.”

I actually recited this song over and over when I had to do my spinning chair training. I will send a short, low-quality video that someone took with a small photo camera.

The test is supposed to help you with your vestibular system. As you may know, when you fly in zero-G your vestibular system gets all messed up, sort of like when you are on a boat. You can get nauseous and feel miserable. The effects differ by individual. Some people are more susceptible to this problem and some adapt very quickly, but one of the essential things that is packed in our space suit, in a nice easily accessible pocket, is a “barf bag” (sorry I don’t know the technical term for it).

The views on the effectiveness of this test vary. Basically there are two types of exercises, one is spinning in one direction for 10-15 minutes while you move your head from shoulder to shoulder, left and right. In the other test, you spin in one direction for one minute, stop and then spin in the reverse direction. While spinning you have to bend forward at the waist and back. This is also done for 10-15 minutes. You may think this one is easier, but actually it is more difficult. Feel free to try it at home… Have a friend spin you on an office chair and try it. Just make sure you have a barf bag nearby 😉

As you can imagine, this is NOT one of my favorite things, so by singing the song or doing simple math calculations in my head I keep myself from getting sick. I had to do this exercise several times in Star City and almost everyday since we arrived in Baikonur.

Talking about favorite things, I thought you may be curious to know some of mine… I love listening to music. I have no talent in playing any instrument but I love listening to all sort of instruments, specially violin, santur and daf (the last two instruments are used in Persian music, you can see them on this website.) .

I like instrumental and new age music, but I also love listening to jazz and blues, light rock and dance music. I guess the only music I don’t listen to often is heavy metal. I guess I’m too old for it ;-).

So here are a few of my favorite things…

Favorite books:
How to Change the World by David Bornstein (I’m trying to have this book translated to Farsi)
The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
The Little Prince ~ Le Petit Prince ~ Shazdeh Khouchoulu (My favorite childhood book)

Favorite Movies:
Of course Star Trek 😉
Last of the Mohicans
Pay it Forward

Favorite Artists:
Googoosh J
Sting (especially Fragile)
Dianne Krall
Oysten Sevag (specially Norwegian Mountains)
Rod Stewart
Michael Buble
Ziba Shirazi
Andrea Bocelli
Shahin & Sepehr
Deep Dish

Favorite Songs:
Faith of the Heart by Rod Stewart
Imagine by John Lennon
Fragile by Sting
Upside Down by Jack Johnson
Mass Destruction by Faithless
Rise Again by DJ Sammy
Fly Me to the Moon by Frank Sinatra
Zan by Ziba Shirazi
Title song for Last of the Mohicans soundtrack
Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong
I Don’t Want to be a Stupid Girl by Pink (Great, fun video too)
Stop Your Fussin’ by Toni Childs
The Entire CD from Notre Dame de Paris musical

September 14, 2006

Price of a Dream

Filed under: Space Explorer — by Anousheh @ 7:55 pm

How do you put a price on your Dream? Is it worth one month’s salary? Is it worth one year’s salary? Is it worth your child’s college savings account? Is it worth all your retirement money? Is it worth losing a limb? Is it worth dying for? What is the right price for a dream?

I don’t have an answer for it. But I believe it is different for every person. For me, I was ready, and still am, to give my life for my dream. Someone once asked me, “Would you go, knowing all the dangers?”

I said I would go even if I knew with certainty that it would be a one-way ticket. Russian Space Agency might not be interested in my life, but they are interested in my money 😉

Where did my money come from… From hard work, an incredible amount of risk, and many sacrifices that my family and I had to make. Do we have the right to decide what to do with this hard-earned money? I would think so! Does this mean that I’m selfish and do not care about all the suffering that goes on in the world? Well, I must say that you need to get to know me better and decide for yourself.

However, I would like to share a few thoughts with you. How do you decide how to spend your money or effort when it comes down to making a change? A Big Change!

Let’s say you want to cure cancer. Do you go buy medicine for the cancer patients? Do you create support centers for the patients? Do you give it to a university doing research? Do you create a prize for cancer research? Do you create scholarship funds for medical students who will do specific research on cancer? Do you go find the biggest cause of cancer and try to lobby to destroy the cause?

As you can see there are many ways to tackle a problem. What you choose is up to you. The impact could be local and small and help a few in the short term — or it could be cause for a long-term epidemic change in cancer cases and prevention.

Personally, I almost always focus on long-term fundamental activities that address the root causes of a problem. I may not feed hungry children, not because I don’t care, but because feeding 100, or 1000, or 100,000 does not solve the problem. Many of the hunger problems occur because of drought and bad farming practices. Did you know that space research helps figure out changes in soil conditions and environment and ways of preventing crop damage?

Space scientists may be microbiologists, engineers, nutritionists, chemists, plant pathologists or other field specialists who work together to find ways of growing better crops here on Earth and in orbit, to produce renewable raw material for industries here on Earth as well as for use in remote moons and planets, and to find ways to save and protect our environment. I’m hoping I will inspire more and more people to go to these fields to find ways to keep crops from getting destroyed and better ways to grow crops so people will not go hungry.

You may also argue that hunger happens because of war. I would agree with that. I also think many people go hungry not because there is a lack of food or help from other countries but because of the lack of honest and effective systems to get the food in the hands of those hungry children. The only way we can change this is through education of our youth to become free thinkers. To be people of high moral standards in their own consciousness not based on standards set by others, and to use their imagination to bring about radical change when they see that change is needed. This is also a message that I’m trying to send to the world.

I support organizations like X Prize and Ashoka Foundation because they are not about making a difference in a small community. These organizations are about Changing the World and making it a better place to live for everyone.

What is the price of a dream…? For me, it is putting my life and my money where my mouth is.

A quick note

Filed under: Space Explorer — by Anousheh @ 7:17 pm

… responding to these comments on “Training in Backup”

2. hi dear Anousheh , my name is Anousheh too ! and i am from IRAN too! one years ago , i found your site in google and i am very happy that your name in ANOUSHEH! because in IRAN ,this name is very limited,now.
i hope that your tour will well and i am very happy that knowing you.
if you like email for me and you know i will happy so much …so much and so much..
Anousheh M Majlesi

Comment by anousheh — September 13, 2006 @ 5:57 pm

Hi Anousheh,

I’m happy to know another Anousheh as well. Our name is indeed rare in Iran, or anywhere else for that matter. But I have to say everyone likes our name when they hear it. Especially here in Russia, our name has been a big hit. They have a similar name and to them it sounds very sweet and endearing. Do you know what Anousheh means :-)?

35. I was there during the two milestone runs in the Mojave, when Burt Rutan set the marker for the rest to take heed. I remember Burt’s speech afterwards, in particular his clever word-play on NASA (the Nay Sayers!). It was all encapsulated so perfectly. As I sat there, fluttering through my cue cards, I was reminded of a great story that was poignant then, and still resonates in light of Ms. Ansari’s choice today:

When Christopher Columbus neared the West Indies, his ships were well within eyesight for many days. Meanwhile, the natives on land would fish in the same ocean, swim and bathe, never taking into their reality that the ships were looming closer, just at the horizon line. How could they? They had never SEEN a ship before. The concept of such a thing was SO remote in their minds that they literally could not SEE it in their scope of the world.

But there was one native who was beginning to feel a stir in the air. He couldn’t quite focus on it, but his innate connection to his surroundings compelled him to take a sabatical to the shoreline. There he sat, and meditated, all the while searching in his soul for the thing he felt but could not see. And on the third day, he opened his eyes, and woke the village with it.

The medicine man turned to a fisherman, and he asked him: “Do you see that? Those vessels coming our way?”

The fisherman was confused, but would not dare dispute the medicine man’s vision. “Maybe. I don’t know. Wait. What are those crosses in the water?”. And it swelled like a brushfire. By the end of the afternoon, everyone in the village could SEE the ships. Suddenly, the massive ships that rowed forward with each passing wave, ignored by the natives who had no previous knowledge of them, came to form. Their spectrum of possibility was broadened that day, and the world would never be the same…

I don’t know if how I’m relating this story makes any sense, only that it took ONE PERSON to see, for everyone to acknowledge. In short, we don’t recognize what we don’t know. So when I see someone, a human being just like any other, walking along that seemingly impossible path, it suddenly makes it plausible to me. Why not space? It begins with that first step.

Anousheh, you’re taking that first step for yourself, while leaving behind a path for us to someday follow. I’m exhilarated with the possibilities that will be discovered, and the new world that your dreams have opened for us.

Humanity should be so grateful.

Comment by Ray Izad-Mehr — September 14, 2006 @ 4:47 am

I must say your analogy was beautiful… Thank you… It made me think of one my favorite books: “The Tipping Point.” I hope with the help of all you bloggers we would bring about the tipping point for a new world where dreams can come true, where people live together with understanding and peace, and where Space Travel is an everyday commute 🙂

p.s., you may enjoy one of my favorite quotes: “Space isn’t that far – it’s only an hour’s drive if your car could go straight up.” — Sir Fred Hoyle

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