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Anousheh’s Space Blog

September 9, 2006

The Road to Baikonur

by Anousheh @ 10:17 am

Hello World! I don’t know who is reading this. Maybe you are a young girl, curious to know who I am… Maybe a young man who liked my picture in the paper… Maybe someone who always dreamed about flying to space and wants to know how it feels to be close to realizing this dream…

Maybe you heard about Ansari X Prize and want to know what the future holds for me and X Prize… Maybe you are an Iranian who is excited to hear the news of another Iranian-born going to space… Or maybe you are reading this by mistake. ;-)

In any case, whoever you are and for whatever reason you happen to be reading this page… Welcome to my blog…

This is the first blog I have ever written. I’m usually a private person, but with what has happened in my life, I feel an obligation to share this experience with everyone out there.

As you probably know I am, in “space lingo,” at L-9. (Translation: 9 days before Launch :-)). I have been in Quarantine in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, since September 2nd. You can read all about Baikonur at Russian Space Web and Wikipedia.

I am sending a few pictures to give you a sense of where I am. This is the same place where the first person in space, Yuri Gagarin, launched from 45 years ago. Also the same place that the first female in space, Valentina Tereshkova, launched from in 1963.

Since those early days of spaceflight, there has been a tradition that the cosmonauts plant a tree upon their return. I hope to plant one when I return. I have included some pictures of Gagarin and Tereshkova’s trees. There are many trees alongside a long walkway that takes you to a view of the vast desert land of Baikonur.

One thing you can say about Russian space launches, there are many traditions and ceremonies. The closer you get to the launch day, the more ceremonies there are. I’m learning about them as I go. These traditions and ceremonies are what make these days very special and memorable. Pictures of our “Fit Check,” when we suited up and went into our capsule to make sure we “Fit” :-), and also of us raising the flags outside our “Cosmonaut Hotel,” are posted on my website as well as the NASA Expedition 14 website.

So now that you know where I am let me tell you why I’m here…

A long, long time ago, in a country far, far away… there was a young girl who had her eyes fixed on the twinkling stars of the night skies over Tehran. Back then the air was not so polluted and you could see many stars in the night skies. Summer time, when they would set up the beds outside on the balcony to sleep, she would lay in her bed and look deep into the mysterious darkness of the universe and think to herself, What’s out there? Is someone out there awake in her bed, and gazing at her in the night sky? Will she ever find her… See her… Will she fly out there and float in the wonderful, boundless freedom of space?

Well, as fate would have it, yes…

If you had asked that young girl, do you want to fly to space? her answer would have been an Enthusiastic YES! If you had asked her, do you think you will fly, the answer would have also been a Hopeful YES! And now that moment is finally near…

I was born in Iran and lived there until age 16, then migrated with my family to the U.S. and got an education in Electrical Engineering, and basically was fortunate to live the American Dream. Don’t get me wrong, the Road to Baikonur was not an easy one and had many ups and downs and obstacles. But what is important is that I stuck to my dream and did not lose my way. I hope that my trip becomes an inspiration for all of you to follow your dreams, wherever they take you. I also hope to show you the universe/space through my eyes and help you see how important space exploration is for our species. We need young imaginative minds to gaze at the skies to help us build a future that will not be earthbound.

Over the next few days before my launch, I will share with you my feelings and sentiments as I approach the Launch day, some details about my flight and the ceremonies and training I’m receiving. I look forward to sharing the next few weeks of my life with each and every one of you…

9 September 2006


  1. Anousheh,

    As a boy growing up in Hungary I had similar dreams to yours. I am now an aerospace engineer working in the US, and I still have a dream of flying in space, and I know one day I will be there. For now I am happy for you on the verge of realising your dream. Ad astra !


    Comment by Zsolt — September 12, 2006 @ 3:07 pm

  2. Anousheh,

    Thank you for taking the time to write a blog about your experiences. It is a rare thing indeed for an astronaut to post his or her feelings about the adventure that lies ahead. I look forward to living vicariously through you as you journey into space, as it has always been something I’ve wanted to do.

    I suspect that your experiences will specifically contribute to the emotional, or visceral, apsect of spaceflight. That is the part that seems lacking in terms of the human-space connection. It is especially important to cultivate this connection if any progress is to be made in terms of interplanetary migration.

    Best wishes to you on your exciting adventure. I envy you greatly.

    Phil Smith

    Comment by Phil Smith — September 12, 2006 @ 3:52 pm

  3. I’m glad to see you’re writing a blog about this fantastic experience. Poyekhali!

    Comment by Gavin Mendeck — September 12, 2006 @ 4:53 pm

  4. Go Anousheh! Know that many here are proud for you and waiting with great anticipation news from space. I hope your flight and stay aboard the ISS is everything you imagine it will be, and more.
    Best wishes,

    Comment by Rocky — September 12, 2006 @ 5:37 pm

  5. Dear Anousheh !

    I hope your space dreams will be accomplished soon…
    Good luck!

    I have one question to you: can you post in your blog
    the original back-up crew photo with Yuri Malenchenko, Peggy Whitson and you…2 women with man in one photo!

    All the best from Poland

    Comment by Maciej Stolowski — September 12, 2006 @ 6:39 pm

  6. Hi Anousheh

    I’ve been following your story and reporting it for the UK published magazine ‘Spaceflight’ since March. You are going to be on the cover of the November issue and I will be writing a detailed report of your flight for the news pages, so I’ll be following the blog very closely over the next few weeks.

    I think I was nearly as excited as you must have been when poor Dice-K was grounded. It must have been a really exhilarating and unbelievable three weeks, to go from the relative obscurity of the back-up role, to see your dream coming true so quickly.

    Very best wishes for a safe and memorable flight.

    Tony Quine
    Isle of Man UK

    PS - I’d like to see the original back-up crew photo too !!

    Comment by Tony Quine — September 12, 2006 @ 7:00 pm

  7. Dear Anousheh,
    It’s very nice that you starting to write in your weblog. Thank you very much indeed for your time and money that are spent to develope Space Science.
    It’s realy interesting to read daily from an astronaut. My team’s and mine (Spacescience.ir) best wishes for a safe flight for you.
    I know all Iranian proud of you because of your brave heart and kind support of space science.
    Take Care

    Comment by Shahram Yazdanpanah — September 12, 2006 @ 9:49 pm

  8. Hello Anousheh

    I have so much admiration for what you are about to do, and I hope and pray you have a successful flight.

    I know you are going to live your lifetime dream but to most people going into space is still regarded as something very risky.

    I cannot imagine how I would feel in your shoes right now, knowing that in a very few days I’m going to be lying in that tiny capsule on top of the Soyuz rocket waiting for the power and danger of the launch.

    Can you share with us exactly how it feels, contemplating next Monday?

    I know you’ve said you’re really excited, but aren’t you a bit nervous or apprehensive too?

    Thank you for sharing the experience through the blog. I’ll be checking back daily.

    Best wishes


    Comment by Kerry — September 12, 2006 @ 11:50 pm

  9. Dear Anusheh,
    as I see the pictures of Baykonur, I remember my stays there inside of last year during the flight in April and in October. It’s a great place there at Baykonur, but also a very strange place - but if I’m there, I feel like at home. I follow your ways to space since weeks for know, and I will say: Have a nice and a very safe trip. You can be defenitely a glad woman, and we press our thumbs and give you godspeed.

    If you meet a man, his name is Igor Rudyaev (from the GCTC), please give him also the best wishes from his good friend in Germany, who will come back as soon as possible to Russia.

    Take care and all the best,

    (also ’space proofed’, participated at sea survival training for cosmontauts, MIG-25 rides, Zero G rides, Centrifuge rides => knowing the facts what does it mean; feel like a Cosmonaut. But you are on the way to the stars - absolutely!)

    Comment by Andreas P. Bergweiler — September 13, 2006 @ 12:20 am

  10. Dear Anousheh,

    Thank you for keeping a public blog to share your experiences with us — all of us around the world who have never met you, or each other, but who all share the dream of going to the stars.

    My best wishes go with you.

    Comment by Batya W. — September 13, 2006 @ 5:05 pm

  11. Dear Mrs. Ansari,
    Your enthusiasm for space is admirable. As a Pilot, I can appreciate the training process and the hard work and dedication that it takes. You are one of the few in the World and I wish the Lord’s utmost blessing upon you and your family. Look forward to your return, experience and discovery on your Website. Take care and we are proud of you for who you are and what you bring to our society.

    Comment by Ali — September 13, 2006 @ 6:30 pm

  12. Wish U the very best in your mission. A great boost for women power!

    Rimanika, Usha and Srinivas Laxman

    Mumbai India

    Comment by srinivas — September 14, 2006 @ 3:47 am

  13. Dear Anousheh
    When You want,God help you.
    I Have an Iranian blog and I will happy if visit you in my blog.

    Viva for ever
    Maryam Mirahmadi

    Comment by Maryam Mirahmadi — September 14, 2006 @ 4:04 pm

  14. hi
    i am mehrab of iran.hamedan. lotfan baraye mandegari tamadone irani
    yek dvd az ashare hafez ,sadi,shahname ba khodet bebar va dar anja bogzar. bye

    [ to make Iran’s culture eternal, please take a DVD of Iranian poets masterpieces, like Hafez, Sadi and Shahnameh, up there and put it there. ]

    Comment by iran — September 14, 2006 @ 4:33 pm

  15. Dear Anousheh
    Good luck !

    Comment by Masoud Kheder — September 14, 2006 @ 6:44 pm

  16. Dear Anousheh
    As an Iranian living in USA, we are very happy and full of joy for all of your achievements and reaching to one of your dreams.

    You are the best mentor and role model for our youg generation.

    THANKS for your commitment

    lake Jackson, Texas

    Comment by Yahya — September 14, 2006 @ 10:48 pm

  17. Dear Anousheh,

    Good luck for the launch!!!! You and your family have done so much for the space program and for the future development of humanity. You deserve your trip. It will be the most humbling experience. I hope your efforts will encourage others to realise it is better to look up to the stars and realise our little problems down here are nothing compared to the grand scheme of things. I am very jealous and am saving up for my ticket. If you could spare 20 million bucks, you have my email address…. Safe journey and watch out for that bumpy re-entry.

    William Stevens, London

    Comment by William Stevens — September 15, 2006 @ 5:08 pm

  18. Dear Anousheh, I would just like to say I am a great admirer of what you have already done for the opening up of space. It is important technically, but perhaps even more so, the juxtaposition of the US and Iranian flags may send a powerful message of HUMAN cooperation in space. Respective Presidents take note. I would also like to see other prominent individuals hop on board. Imagine what Bill Gates could do? Have a good trip.

    Comment by Stuart Edwards — September 15, 2006 @ 9:31 pm

  19. Good Luck on your first voyage to the stars, well near earth orbit, anyway! From an impoverished law student, trying to get his doctorate. I guess when you are up there looking down, seeing day turn into night so quickly; you might imagine the peace and serenity of the earth against the back drop of what is actually going on, on the surface and wonder the true insignificance of man’s pettiness with each other and his true place in the universe. These words may be more poignant to you than any other person at the point: “Imagine there’s no countries, it isn’t hard to do…nothing to kill or die for and no religion too; Imagine all the people living life in peace…”

    Anyway just I thought of what I would be thinking about if I were there…Good Luck and best wishes.

    Comment by Dinesh C. Rajp — September 15, 2006 @ 11:51 pm

  20. Hey!

    Good luck and good job. I know many people are inspiried by all that you have done for the space programs around the world. i think that your humanism of both flags is amazing, and has great symbolism. Be proud, be stong and keep on truckin

    Have a good one, enjoy the view

    Comment by Mike Snoddon — September 16, 2006 @ 12:14 am

  21. I congratulate you on demonstrating the wonder of over coming obstacles to achieve your goals. This exciting adventure will do more to bring unity to the people of the world than any other action of the politicians, religious leaders or fanatics. People from all over the world will share in your exciting adventure, even those who would not join together for another cause. Good for you and all the best. Thank you for including us by creating a blog.

    Comment by Peter Kalven — September 16, 2006 @ 12:23 am

  22. Best wishes for a successful and exciting flight. As Piccard would say: “make it so”.

    From Texas


    Comment by Mark Mosty — September 16, 2006 @ 2:40 am

  23. Dear Anousheh,
    Congratulations and Good Luck for your forthcoming flight.
    I echo Phil Smith’s comments and am most grateful to you for sharing your experiences with us. You have already been on an incredible journey it would seem and are soon to embark on another. I sincerely hope that you will fulfill this dream and many others and thank you for the inspiration that you are providing to so people in so many ways.
    Andy C

    Comment by Andy Coles — September 16, 2006 @ 10:23 am

  24. Dear Anousheh,

    Just a brief note from a space enthusiast in the UK to wish you Godspeed and good fortune on your upcoming voyage. I think it’s wonderful that you’re going to allow us to read your thoughts by writing a blog while you’re up there, and I’m looking forward to reading your entries. It looks like the ISS will be passing over my part of the world while you’re onboard, so I’ll go find somewhere dark to watch you fly over and give you a wave… maybe you’ll be looking out a porthole at the same time… :-)

    Seriously tho, leaving aside the obvious and very welcome political relevence of your flight, as someone who is involved in space and science Outreach education here in the UK, and who is on an (unspoken and unofficial!) personal crusade to encourage more girls to follow careers in science and astronomy, I am thrilled by your mission and your support of space exploration in general. Our future is Out There, without a doubt, and many, many people will be inspired by your flight, I am sure.

    Godspeed Anousheh, have a fun time up there, and come back to us safely.


    Comment by Stuart Atkinson — September 16, 2006 @ 11:06 am

  25. You are good for go! Have a ball - wish I could share your eyes for the trip.


    Comment by Paul — September 16, 2006 @ 11:33 am

  26. Can I ask whether you’re going to take makeup with you? I mean, how important will it be to you to look good while you’re up in space?

    Comment by Chris Mance — September 16, 2006 @ 2:31 pm

  27. Nice blog and very exciting read, Best of luck and have a nice Flight!

    Comment by Suresh Gundappa — September 16, 2006 @ 6:45 pm

  28. chére Anousheh

    je te souhaite une bonne chance d’atteindre tes réves d’enfence
    mais n’oublie pas les enfants dont leurs rêves sont de ne pas être faims

    [Dear Anousheh I wish you a good luck to reach your dreams but do not forget the children whose dreams are not to be hungry]

    Comment by Ali — September 16, 2006 @ 8:56 pm

  29. […] In fact, she started her space blog on September 12. Here is what she wrote in her first post, “The Road to Baikonur.” This is the first blog I have ever written. I’m usually a private person, but with what has happened in my life, I feel an obligation to share this experience with everyone out there. […]

    Pingback by Blogs for Companies » Blog Archive » Blogging from space — September 16, 2006 @ 8:56 pm


The Road To Baikonur September 9

Birthday Bouquets
September 12

Training as Backup
September 13

Price of a Dream
September 14

My Favorite Things!
September 15

Rendez-Vous at X Prize Cup
September 16

The Day Has Come
September 17

Email from Space!
September 20 email

Hello World
September 21

Atlantis from Orbit
September 22

The Trip Up
September 22

Space Travel Details September 25

Close Quarters
September 25

Watching the world go by
September 26

Thank God for Velcro
September 27

On leaving Orbit
September 28

The wave from space
September 28

The Ride Down
September 30

World Hold On
September 30

I couldn’t sleep
October 2

Second Birth
October 5

Back in the World
October 9

Goodbye Star City / My Speech
October 20

Wonderful ride
October 23