Anousheh Ansari is set to become the first female Muslim in space, first Iranian-born person in space, and the first female space tourist on September 18, 2006. Along with her brother-in-law Amir Ansari, she made a multi-million dollar contribution to the X-Prize foundation on May 5, 2004, the 43rd anniversary of Alan Shepard’s sub-orbital spaceflight. The X-Prize was officially renamed the Ansari X Prize in honour of their donation.
Born in 1966 in Mashhad, Iran, Ansari witnessed the Iranian revolution in 1979. She immigrated to the United States in 1984 as a teenager who did not speak English.
As the child of an immigrant, I’m always on the lookout for excellent immigrant success stories, and this is a terrific one. First Muslim woman in space seems like sort of a big deal to me, but this was buried near the end of a boring story about space shuttle astronauts doing mundane construction tasks today. I wonder if mainstream media will pick up on this when she blasts off next week?