"A long, long time ago in a country far, far away ... there was a young girl who had her eyes fixed on the twinkling stars of the night skies over Tehran.''
So begins the blog of Anousheh Ansari, who this week created a clutch of precedents, including first paying female space tourist, first Iranian space tourist and first Muslim woman in space.
The telecom entrepreneur, who emigrated to the United States at 16 and now lives in Dallas, has added another probable first to the list: by blogging from space.
Beginning with launch preparations at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Ms. Ansari used her blog to detail her every thought and feeling during her two-week adventure. Her observations include that space smells like a "burnt almond cookie" and the difficulty of keeping hold of lip-gloss and trying to wash one's hair in space. The day before her return to the Earth, she described "drowning in the sadness of my departure."
On Friday she landed safely in the steppes of Kazakhstan. Ms. Ansari, wrapped in a fur-lined blanket against the early morning chill, smiled broadly as she sat, still strapped into her seat, in the long grass outside the Soyuz capsule.
Ms. Ansari said later, at a ceremony in which she was presented with embroidered Kazakh robes and hats, that the most striking aspects of her journey were seeing the Earth from space and the friendship developed aboard the orbiting station with Russian cosmonaut Pavel Vinogradov and U.S. astronaut Jeffrey Williams.
"Anousheh has done a good job she's one of the team," Itar-Tass quoted Mr. Vinogradov as saying. Her blog also drew hundreds of responses from the Earth, one urging: "Pray for world peace while you are up there. It's probably a local call rather than a long-distance one."
Guardian Newspapers Limited 2006