GW Briefs

First female space tourist a GW alumna

Anousheh Ansari is about to make history hundreds of miles away from where she went to graduate school in Foggy Bottom. Hundreds of miles above Foggy Bottom, that is.

The GW alumna is set to become the first woman, and only fourth ever, space tourist when a Russian Soyuz-TM9A rocket launches her into space to the International Space Station Sept. 18.

Ansari received her master’s degree in electrical engineering from GW in 1992. She will accompany 14 American and Russian astronauts to the ISS for 10 days before returning with a crew that has been at the station for six months.

“This is a dream that I’ve longed for since childhood,” Ansari told CNN last month. “I deeply believe that the long-term survival of the human race will largely depend on our achievements in space exploration.”

Ansari was born in Iran and came to the U.S. when she was 14. She attended George Mason University earning a bachelor’s degree in electronics and computer engineering before earning her master’s at GW.

The 39-year-old stands to become the first Iranian in outer space and plans to wear both American and Iranian flags on her sleeves. According to reports, Ansari’s 10-day trip has a price tag of $20 million.

“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,” wrote Timothy Tong, Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, in a press release last week.

Ansari is the founder of the telecommunications company Prodea Systems, a consumer technology company. An advocate for private space exploration for many years, Ansari’s family funded the $10 million X-Prize, an award for the first private organization to launch a manned craft into space twice in two weeks.

She has received numerous accolades for her work including GW’s Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award.

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