to Ground Ops
I have made several postings on NASA Watch with regard to claims that Anousheh Ansari was the first person to “blog” in space. Having been a blogger of sorts for more than a decade (I was doing it before there was a word for it) the term has come to mean the end-to-end process of running a blog website – not only writing the posts but actually operating the blog management software i.e. editing, posting replies to comments, etc. Being on the ISS more or less limits her to sending emails back to Earth – hence my quibbling with the use of the term.
Websites can have a global impact. I learned that early on. My first hint came in 1995 when the original NASA Watch webserver was in the small condo my wife and I owned. During the first shuttle mission I covered I awoke one night around 3 a.m. to hear the hard drive on the webserver making a lot of noise. It was busy. But why so early? Then it dawned on me: Europe was waking up. Throughout that day – and into the night – I listened to that noisy hard drive. I could almost imagine an entire planet with continents moving in and out of sunlight – with people starting and ending their day by checking my website. My worldview was never the same after that.
As such, definitions aside, let me be very, very clear about the sheer impact of Anousheh’s blog postings. Despite where you may fall on the claim as to whether she is “blogging” or not, I do feel that she has broken totally new territory – in an expansive, profound, global fashion. In so doing, she has inspired people previously untouched – or uninspired – by the sheer excitement and promise of space exploration. She fancies herself as a space ambassador. Early on I expressed some issues with that term. I hereby withdraw those comments.
But this is just the beginning of Anousheh’s journey. The real journey begins when she returns to Earth and how she takes the excitement of the moment and transforms it into long-term change – for the better. Prior to her flight, Anousheh had already demonstrated her abundant dedication via sponsorship of the X Prize and other activities. I have no doubt whatsoever that she will continue to make substantial financial – and personal – contributions to the cause of promoting space exploration long after she has returned to our planet.
Safe travels, Anousheh