First private woman goes into space

First private woman goes into space

BAIKONUR – A Russian-built rocket carrying the world’s first paying female space tourist and a new US-Russian crew streaked into the cloudless sky over the desolate steppes of Kazakhstan on Monday, en route to the international space station.

The Soyuz TMA-9 capsule blasted into space less than a day after the US space shuttle Atlantis pulled away from the orbiting station and began its journey back to Earth. The Soyuz entered orbit about 10 minutes after lift off, according to Russian space officials monitoring the launch at Mission Control in Korolyov, outside Moscow.”The launch was successful.Everything went as expected,” said Russian Mission Control chief Vladimir Solovyov.Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin and US astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria were to join German astronaut Thomas Reiter on the station just over 48 hours after blasting off from Russia’s Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.Joining them was Anousheh Ansari, an Iranian-born American telecommunications entrepreneur who has paid a reported US$20 million to become the fourth paying visitor to take a trip on a Russian spacecraft and visit the station.”I’m just so happy to be here,” Ansari said ebulliently as she entered the Soyuz rocket, shrouded in vapours from the super-cooled fuel tanks and painted a soft orange hue by the just risen sun.Spanish-born Lopez-Alegria grinned and waved before climbing into the rocket and shouted an old Catalonian proverb that translated as “Health and strength!” Roughly a kilometre away from the launch pad, Ansari’s relatives gasped, their eyes and mouths widening as the gantries finally fell away from the rocket and smoke billowed below.Her mother, Fakhri Shahidi, clasped her hands in front of her chest as if in prayer.Nampa-APThe Soyuz entered orbit about 10 minutes after lift off, according to Russian space officials monitoring the launch at Mission Control in Korolyov, outside Moscow.”The launch was successful.Everything went as expected,” said Russian Mission Control chief Vladimir Solovyov.Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin and US astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria were to join German astronaut Thomas Reiter on the station just over 48 hours after blasting off from Russia’s Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.Joining them was Anousheh Ansari, an Iranian-born American telecommunications entrepreneur who has paid a reported US$20 million to become the fourth paying visitor to take a trip on a Russian spacecraft and visit the station.”I’m just so happy to be here,” Ansari said ebulliently as she entered the Soyuz rocket, shrouded in vapours from the super-cooled fuel tanks and painted a soft orange hue by the just risen sun.Spanish-born Lopez-Alegria grinned and waved before climbing into the rocket and shouted an old Catalonian proverb that translated as “Health and strength!” Roughly a kilometre away from the launch pad, Ansari’s relatives gasped, their eyes and mouths widening as the gantries finally fell away from the rocket and smoke billowed below.Her mother, Fakhri Shahidi, clasped her hands in front of her chest as if in prayer.Nampa-AP

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