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Thu, Aug 24, 2006

Change In Plans! Ansari Taking To Stars In September

Will Replace Japanese Businessman On Next Soyuz Flight

You could almost say it was written in the stars. Well, that's a bit trite, but there's no denying that fate smiled on Anousheh Ansari, who was selected Tuesday to replace Daisuke Enomoto as the next "space tourist".

She'll fly onboard the next Russian Soyuz flight to the International Space Station, as the first-ever female space tourist.

Ansari -- yes, that Ansari, part of the brother-sister team who funded 2004's Ansari X-Prize -- will launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on September 14, along with ISS crewmembers Mikhail Tyurin and Miguel Lopez-Alegria.

As Aero-News reported earlier this year, Ansari was originally set to fly to the ISS sometime in 2007 -- with Enomoto set to fly in September. That was before the Japanese businessman was stripped of flight privileges this week due to undisclosed medical reasons, however -- and at this writing, it was not known if he would be able to fly at another time.

Bad news for Enomoto is good news for Ansari, however -- who has been training in Houston and Russia in preparation for her 10-day trip to the ISS.

"Anyway you can fly me, I'll go," she said in an interview last month in Houston, according to the BBC.

The sudden change in plans may present some complications for Ansari, however. For one, it's not yet known if she'll be able to bring her own meals with her -- as Enomoto sent his food ahead on the last Progress module. Same goes for his spacesuit.

We doubt she'll mind, though.

FMI: www.spaceadventures.org

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