August 30, 2006 Thirty-nine year old Iranian-born entrepreneur and Ansari X-Prize title sponsor, Anousheh Ansari, has been officially named to the Soyuz TMA-9 primary crew and will become the first private female spaceflight participant. Following in the footsteps of the three previous Space Adventures private cosmonauts, Ansari will launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on September 14 en route to the International Space Station (ISS) along with the Expedition 14 crew members: NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin. Mrs. Ansari began her cosmonaut training earlier this year in preparation for a future orbital spaceflight with Space Adventures but with a Russian Medical Board deeming Japanese businessman Daisuke Dice-K Enemoto unfit for space flight, Ansari will become the first private female astronaut, two days after her fortieth birthday and achieve an ambition she has harboured since childhood. In her quest to fly in space, Ansari kickstarted the private spaceflight industry by creating the US$10m X-Prize competition, which was awarded in 2004 to Bert Rutan. “By reaching this dream I’ve had since childhood, I hope to tangibly demonstrate to young people all over the world that there is no limit to what they can accomplish,” said Anousheh Ansari, chairman and co-founder of Prodea Systems. Prodeo is Ansari’s latest venture, focussing on digital home technology. Go Girl !!!! Excellent image library.

“We are pleased to announce this historic event, the world's first female space tourist, and are overjoyed that Anousheh is ready for flight. She has been training diligently for several months now and has been certified for flight,” said Eric Anderson, president and CEO of Space Adventures. “We celebrate Anousheh’s dedication in her spaceflight preparations and wish her a successful and awe-inspiring mission.”

In 1993, Anousheh pitched a plan to her husband, Hamid, that they leave their jobs at MCI, and use their US$50,000 retirement funds to start a telecommunications company. In 2000, their start-up sold for US$750 million. The money financed Mrs. Ansari's childhood dream.

Anousheh Ansari is the fourth private explorer to visit the ISS, and the first astronaut of Iranian descent. Her trip will include two days orbiting earth and eight days aboard the ISS. “This incredible achievement is just another amazing tale in Anousheh’s life,” said husband Hamid Ansari, chief executive officer, president and co-founder of Prodea Systems. “Going into space has been a life long dream for Anousheh.

She completed her rigorous training with great determination and passion. We are all very proud of her and her many accomplishments.” An active proponent of world-changing technologies, Anousheh Ansari has been immersed in the space industry for years.

Anousheh Ansari along with Amir Ansari, her brother-in-law, and co-founder and chief technical officer of Prodea Systems, provided the title sponsorship for the Ansari X Prize, a $10 million cash prize awarded to Burt Rutan in 2004, for the first non-governmental organization to launch a reusable manned spacecraft into space twice within two weeks.

“Anousheh is a compassionate visionary who cares deeply about our future, the ideal space ambassador to show us what traveling in space really feels like,” said Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, Founder and Chairman of the X PRIZE Foundation. “Now as she travels to orbit, the X PRIZE looks forward to helping her share her personal experience worldwide.”

“Anousheh has spent most of her life feeding and nurturing the spirit of entrepreneurship, including the Ansari X Prize, Prodea Systems and now commercial space flight,” Amir Ansari said. “Anousheh has always believed that these investments promote the kind of revolutionary ideas that will make our world a better place and spread the seeds of social entrepreneurship.”

A living example of the American dream, Anousheh Ansari immigrated to the United States as a teenager who did not speak English. She immersed herself in education, earning a bachelor’s degree in electronics and computer engineering from George Mason University, followed by a master’s degree in electrical engineering from George Washington University.

Anousheh Ansari parlayed that education into a successful telecommunications company, telecom technologies, inc., where she served as co-founder, chief executive officer and chairman of the board until January 2000, when the company successfully merged with Sonus Networks, Inc. (Nasdaq: SONS).

Along the way, she earned two key U.S. patents, was awarded the Working Woman magazine’s Entrepreneurial Excellence Award and the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award (Southwest Region). “We, at Space Adventures, congratulate Anousheh for being officially certified for spaceflight.

As the first female private space explorer, she is proclaiming that space travel is not for a select few, but for all of us. She is an inspiration to all who pursue their dreams, no matter the challenges that they may face. Her time to fly is now; we celebrate her dedication and we wish her an awe-inspiring mission,” said Eric Anderson, president and CEO of Space Adventures, Ltd., the provider of the spaceflight experience and the only company in the world today capable of providing commercial space travel.

Space Adventures has previously sent three private explorers to space.

In 2001, American Dennis Tito fulfilled his dream of space travel, and in 2002, the 'First African in Space' Mark Shuttleworth launched and, last October, American Greg Olsen, took flight. Each spent eight days aboard the ISS.

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