Groundbreaking Women: First self-funded female space explorer



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Posted on September 10, 2012 at 4:32 PM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 11 at 5:16 PM

DALLAS –  As the first female self-funded space explorer in 2006, Anousheh Ansari got a view only a few hundred people have ever had.

“It started to feel real when I felt the rumbling of the engines. And the push of the G forces as we blasted off to space," she said.

“I was sitting in my capsule on top of this huge rocket knowing that in a few seconds, I was going to blast off. Everyone went through my mind in those few seconds as they were going through the countdown; it was like the countdown through my life story.” 

A life story of a little girl in Iran who witnessed the Iranian revolution, immigrated to the United States as a teenager, and has since started five successful businesses in the telecom industry.

Ansari credits her ability to adapt and re-invent herself time and time again.

“Sometimes going through the change is painful. Sometimes you want to bail out and leave, but if you stick through it, almost every time I looked back and said, 'It was tough, but I'm a better person,'” Ansari said.

And she says her space travel gave her a new perspective –– looking down on Earth made a profound impact.

“It makes you humble and also powerful at the same time, because you understand how small your life and planet is in comparison to the universe,” she said.

But she also calls that same moment highly motivating.

“When you are up there and the world seems much smaller, you think you can make a difference and change something globally,” she said. 

And while Ansari walked away with that global outlook, sitting among the stars really zeroed in on her life's meaning.

“The human relationships have taken a higher priority over everything else, because you learn about the fragility of our world and our lives,” she said.