Anousheh Ansari born September 12, 1966, in Mashhad, Anousheh is an Iranian-American engineer and co-founder and chairwoman of Prodea Systems. The Ansari family is also the title sponsor of the Ansari X Prize. On September 18, 2006, a few days after her 40th birthday, she became the first Muslim woman in space.
She and her parents moved to Tehran shortly afterward. Anousheh is Muslim; she witnessed the Iranian Revolution in 1979. She immigrated to the United States in 1984 as a teenager. Apart from her native Persian, she is fluent in English and French, and acquired a working knowledge of Russian for her spaceflight experience.
The company was a supplier of softswitch technology that enabled telecom “service providers to enhance system performance, lower operating costs and furnish new revenue opportunities.” The company, headquartered in Richardson, Texas, offered a line of products that allowed for integration between existing legacy telecom networks and application-centric, next-generation networks via software switch technology.
While in space, Anousheh wrote a blog that invited readers to share her experience. She described the Russian Soyuz capsule during liftoff, talked about the sights and smells of the space station, and explained the intricacies of everyday activities such as eating and washing up in zero gravity. The blog captured international attention. Her personal web site and her blog site garnered more than 50 million hits from readers around the world.
In 2001, Anousheh served as co-founder, chief executive officer and chairman of the board for Telecom Technologies, Inc. After earning three key U.S. patents and growing the company to 250 employees with 100% sequential growth year over year since inception, the company successfully merged with Sonus Networks (Nasdaq: SONS), a provider of IP-based voice infrastructure products, in a deal worth approximately $750 million dollars.
She served as the company’s chief executive officer and chairman of the board. Telecom Technologies created a product called a “softswitch” that allowed voice communications over the Internet.
Anousheh Ansari dreamed of going into space since she was a little girl in Iran. That young girl, however, could not have known the impact she one day would have on dreamers around the world. Ultimately, Anousheh would build a lifetime of accomplishments in a few short decades, from creating a multi-million-dollar business to driving technological change to blasting into space.
She hopes her tale of determination, struggle, and ultimate triumph will inspire children and women everywhere to dream big, study hard and see obstacles as merely problems to be solved.
On September 18, 2006, Anousheh Ansari captured headlines around the world as the first female private space explorer. Anousheh earned a place in history as the fourth private explorer to visit space and the first astronaut of Iranian descent.
Anousheh has always dreamed of traveling to space, and while she is extremely excited to realize this dream, she is also focused on sharing her experience with others. She believes the key to a better future for humankind is in the hands of our young generation, and it is up to us to provide them with the right tools through education and as good role models.