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Sept. 7, 2006  



(202) 994-3087;

Joanne Welsh

(202) 994-2050;




Anousheh Ansari Will Board Sept. 18 Russian Mission to International Space Station


WASHINGTON - The George Washington University alumna Anousheh Ansari, M.S. '92, will soon become the first woman - and only the fourth person - to become a space tourist.  She will accompany the U.S.-Russian Expedition 14 crew members onboard the Soyuz TMA-9 mission to the International Space Station.  She is currently in quarantine prior to the scheduled launch on Sept. 18 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.


Earlier in her career, Ansari made her fortune in telecommunications and has since funded her passion for space exploration and other world-changing technologies.  The 39-year-old, Iranian-born engineer and businesswoman has dreamed of space exploration since childhood and is spending an estimated $20 million for her 10-day trip to the International Space Station.


"I was born in Iran, and I have sentimental attachment to that country," Ansari says. "But if it wasn't for all the opportunities and education I received in the United States, I wouldn't be here today."


Ansari immigrated to the United States when she was 14.  She received a bachelor's degree in electronics and computer engineering from George Mason University and a master's degree in electrical engineering from The George Washington University.  She currently is working toward a master's degree in astronomy from Swinburne University in Australia.


"Anousheh Ansari is a bright and shining example of what a person can accomplish when she has a passion for her field and is willing to work hard and attain the education and training necessary to reach her goal," said Timothy Tong, dean of GW's School of Engineering and Applied Science.  "All of us here at the school are very honored that she is one of our alumni, and we are exceedingly proud of her achievements and her commitment to furthering space tourism."


Ansari and her family already have encouraged space tourism by providing the title sponsorship for the Ansari X Prize, a $10-million cash award for the first non-governmental organization to launch a reusable manned spacecraft into space twice within two weeks. This feat was accomplished in 2004 by legendary aerospace designer Burt Rutan.


Ansari now is part of a large team working on the development of a new kind of spacecraft to open up space tourism to more people by making it more affordable.  She also is the chairman and co-founder of Prodea Systems, a digital home and multimedia management technologies firm.

GW's School of Engineering and Applied Science prepares engineers to address society's technological challenges by providing outstanding undergraduate, graduate, and professional educational experiences and by stimulating and providing innovative, fundamental, and applied research activities. 


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