First Female Space Tourist Says Hello to ISS Crew

Liftoff! Fourth Space Tourist, New Crew Launches Toward Space Station
The world's first female space tourist, Anousheh Ansari, was all smiles in the hours before the flight as she said farewell to family and well wishers. (Image credit: NASA TV)

CAPECANAVERAL, Fla. - A U.S. entrepreneur making history as the world'sfirst female space tourist said hello to astronauts aboard the International SpaceStation (ISS) early Tuesday while she and two professional spaceflyers continued their trek towards the orbitallaboratory.

"Helloeveryone, I look forward to seeing you on the station," said Anousheh Ansari, who isriding aboard a Russian-builtSoyuz TMA-9 spacecraft with the station's next crew.

"We lookforward to welcoming you all onboard," ISS Expedition13 flight engineer JeffreyWilliams replied.

The callcame during a rareconference call between three manned spacecraft circling the Earth. Inaddition to the Soyuz ferrying Ansari and two Expedition14 astronauts to the ISS, three astronauts currently live aboard the spacestation itself while six others are on their way back to Earth aboard NASA'sAtlantis shuttle.

"I know wehave a lot to learn from all of them, and we look forward to our time togetherespecially having Anousheh onboard," Expedition 14commander MichaelLopez-Alegria, who is riding aboard the Soyuzwith Ansari and flight engineer MikhailTyurin, told the Atlantis crew of Expedition 13."It's too bad the Atlantis crew won't get to meet her, but maybe some time inthe future."

Lopez-Alegria and Tyurin are relieving Williams and Expedition 13commander Pavel Vinogradov, who havelived aboard the ISS since their April arrival. The two Expedition 14astronauts will welcome current Expedition 13 flight engineer ThomasReiter, of the European Space Agency, into their ranks, though Williams,Vinogradov and Ansari are scheduled to return to Earth on Sept. 28.

Ansari isthe fourth paying visitor to the ISS and will spend nine days in space on atrip brokered with Russia's Federal Space Agency by theVirginia-based firm Space Adventures. A long-time advocate of privatespaceflight, Ansari served as a backup for Japanesebusinessman Daisuke Enomoto, who was paying anestimated $20 million for a trek to the ISS before failinga final preflight medical check.

"I thinkit's great," said Atlantis astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper, the only female member of the shuttle'sSTS-115 crew, of Ansari's spaceflight in aspace-to-ground television interview after the spacecraft conference call. "Idon't think there's anything, you know, about being a space tourist orastronaut. If the guys can do it, we can do it too."

  • Full Coverage: ISS Expedition 14
  • Complete Space Shuttle Mission Coverage
  • Anousheh Ansari: First Woman Space 'Explorer' Visits ISS
  • Image Gallery: Anousheh Ansari Prepares for Launch

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.