Space and earth

First-ever female space tourist now helping connect rural India to the Internet

Arkalyk, KAZAKHSTAN: The world's first female space tourist Anousheh Ansari (R) looks at her husband Hamid, after the landing of the Russian "Soyuz TMA-8" space capsule not far from Kazakh town of Arkalyk (some 300 kms from Kazakh capital of Astana), 29 September 2006. The capsule carrying Iranian-born American national Anousheh Ansari, Pavel Vinogradov of Russia and US astronaut Jeffrey Williams touched down softly at 0114 GMT near Arkalyk, Russian news agencies quoted the Russian space flight control centre as saying. AFP PHOTO/ ALEXANDER NEMENOV. (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)

When Anousheh Ansari traveled to the International Space Station in 2006, she became the first-ever female space tourist and the fourth self-funded space traveler in history. It took seven months of training and cost her about $20 million to go to space, but it was time and money well-spent because the views were so spectacular, according to the Iranian-American. “It’s like a symphony, with the lights changing and watching the terminator (or twilight zone) move across the Earth as day changed to night,” she said.

Ansari, an IT entrepreneur, reflected on her voyage to space with Mashable this week. In the decade since her trip, she’s become a space movie buff (“[Movies like GravityThe Martian] take me back to my experience, and I get so absorbed”), but has also dedicated her tech smarts to helping bring Internet access to rural parts of India through her company, Prodea. “I get 4G connectivity in Rajasthan, but very few people have smartphones,” she said. “Even though you read about smartphone adoption growing, it’s probably just the head of the family getting sole use of the phone, and the women and children don’t.”

Prodea works through the installation of Internet-connected boxes to television sets. Ansari expects that at least 10,000 homes in Rajasthan will be connected to the web through the devices by the end of the year.

Read the full story at Mashable.

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