Sunday, August 22, 2010

A very inspiring book: My Dream of Stars - the story of Anousheh Ansari's flight to the International Space Station

On September 18th, 2006 Iranian born American Anousheh Ansari achieved her dream of flying in space. Launched aboard Soyuz TMA-9 with commander Mikhail Tyurin (RSA) and flight engineer Michael Lopez-Alegria (NASA), Anousheh reached low Earth orbit and became the 4th "spaceflight participant" and the first female space tourist. TMA-9 docked with the International Space Station on September 20th. She spent the next eight days on the ISS and returned on Soyuz TMA-8 with NASA astronaut Jeffrey Williams and Russian cosmonaut Pavel Vinogradov. Total mission duration was 10 days, 21 hours and 4 minutes.

I was on a eleven hour flight from Los Angeles to Frankfurt and when I started reading her book My Dream of Stars (written jointly with Homer Hickam) I could not put it down. I rushed through dinner, skipped the in-flight movies had a second glass of wine and kept on reading. Her story is quite inspiring as she walks us through her life from growing up in Mashhad and Tehran to meeting her husband Hamid and her brother-in-law Amir and of co-founding Telcom Technologies, Inc. What were most interesting for me were the chapters dedicated to her selection and subsequent training at Star City. She also gives an open and honest account of her 48hr journey to the ISS. The detail she went into from her bouts of space sickness she had during the first few days, her life aboard the ISS and her conversations she had with the astronauts and cosmonauts to her landing on the steppes of Kazakhstan was absolutely amazing. I read every word and clung to all the details. While Anousheh was at the ISS she also kept a blog which was equally interesting reading.

Anousheh Ansari is quite a remarkable person and teaches us all that through tenacity, hope, innovation and hard work even the impossible can be achieved and even the wildest dreams can be made to come through. More information about her can be found on her web page.

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