Anousheh Ansari in her spacesuit

Anousheh Ansari

Anousheh Ansari is Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Prodea Systems. As she launched her company on September 1 8, 2006, she also blasted off for an eight-day expedition aboard the International Space Station and captured headlines around the world as the first female private space explorer. She also earned a place in history as the first astronaut of Iranian descent, the first Muslim woman, and the fourth private explorer to visit space. This was the accomplishment of a lifelong dream for her.

As a successful serial entrepreneur and active proponent of world-changing technologies and social entrepreneurship, she along with her family provided the title sponsorship for the Ansari XPRIZE, a $10 million cash award for the first non-governmental organization to launch a reusable manned spacecraft into space twice within two weeks. This feat was accomplished in 2004 by legendary aerospace designer Burt Rutan in 2004. With the success of the XPRIZE competition, the Ansari family helped launch a new era in private space exploration. Prior to her space ventures, Anousheh served as Co-Founder, Chief Executive Officer and Chairwoman for Telecom Technologies, Inc. After earning three key U.S. patents and growing 100% sequentially year over year since inception, her company successfully merged with Sonus Networks and she served as General Manager and Vice President of the Softswitch division.

Anousheh is a member of the XPRIZE Foundation’s Vision Circle, as well as its Board of Trustees. She is a life member in the Association of Space Explorers and on the advisory board of the Teachers In Space project. She has received multiple honors, including the World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, Ellis Island Medal of Honor, DFW International Community Alliance Hall of Fame Award, the Working Woman’s National Entrepreneurial Excellence Award, George Mason University’s Entrepreneurial Excellence Award, George Washington University’s Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award, and the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Southwest Region. While under her leadership, Telecom Technologies, Inc. earned recognition as one of Inc. magazine’s 500 fastest-growing companies and Deloitte & Touche’s Fast 500 technology companies. In 2014, Anousheh was named as one of the Shenzhen Space Technology Exchange Ambassadors by Chinese government-sponsored space institute in Shenzhen. Anousheh earned a bachelor’s degree in electronics and computer engineering from George Mason University, followed by a master’s degree in electrical engineering from George Washington University. She is currently working toward a Masters degree in astronomy from Swinburne University. After a successful career in the telecom industry, Ansari became a member of the X-Prize Foundation, a private organization founded to encourage the privatization of space. On May 5, 2004, she and her brother-in-law, Amir Ansari donated millions of dollars to the foundation. In recognition of their generosity, the X-Prize was renamed the Ansari X-Prize. The foundation then announced it would award a monetary prize to the first non-governmental spacecraft. On October 4 of that year, Burt Rutan’s entry into the competition, SpaceShipOne, won the ten million dollars Ansari X Prize. This was done by completing two flights within two weeks or less. Ansari next set her sights on entering space herself. On August 21, 2006, she was named to the prime crew of the Soyuz TMA-9 mission to the ISS, which launched on September 18. She was the fourth privately funded person to reach space and the first who was a woman. During her eight-day stay aboard the International Space Station, Ansari conducted several experiments for the European Space Agency. While in space, she published a weblog, a feat that had not been done before. Anousheh Ansari returned safely to Earth on September 29, 2006. Since then, she has been a self-described ‘Space Ambassador.’ In that role, she has traveled the world, encouraging interest in space and the pursuit of peace. The advancement of young girls has been another on-going focus for her. She has received many honors and awards for her humanitarian efforts