Colorado Springs, Colorado. July 30, 2014 – Meet Anousheh Ansari, the first female private space explorer, as her portrait is unveiled at the Space Foundation Discovery Center in Colorado Springs on Friday, August 1. The portrait unveiling will be held from 2:00 – 2:30 p.m. and is included in the price of Discovery Center admission. The unveiling will be followed by an autograph session with Ansari.
In 2004, Ansari’s family provided the title sponsorship for the Ansari X Prize, a $10 million cash award for the first non-governmental organization to launch a reusable crewed spacecraft into space twice within two weeks. This feat was accomplished by legendary aerospace designer Burt Rutan and helped launch a new era in private spaceflight.
In 2006, Ansari again captured headlines by becoming the first female private space explorer and the first astronaut of Iranian descent. It’s unknown how much she paid for the opportunity to travel into space aboard a Russian Soyuz capsule and to spend eight days living on the International Space Station. While there, she conducted a series of health experiments on behalf of the European Space Agency.
In a September 2006 interview with Space.com, Ansari said she hoped, “To inspire everyone — especially young people, women, and young girls all over the world, and in Middle Eastern countries that do not provide women with the same opportunities as men — to not give up their dreams and to pursue them.”
While in space, Anousheh wrote a blog that invited readers to share her experience. She described the Russian Soyuz capsule during liftoff, talked about the sights and smells of the space station, and explained the intricacies of everyday activities such as eating and washing up in zero gravity. The blog captured international attention. Her personal web site and her blog site garnered more than 50 million hits from readers around the world.
Since her return to Earth, Ansari has continued to inspire people to reach their dreams. Ansari is a spokesperson for the privatization of space and considers herself to be the world’s first space ambassador.
Ansari is the co-founder and chairman of Prodea Systems, which has partnerships to create a fleet of suborbital spacecraft for commercial use. She has received multiple honors and promotes strategic philanthropy and social entrepreneurship. Her memoir, “My Dream of Stars,” co-written with Homer Hickam, was published in 2010.