Page last updated at 15:24 GMT, Friday, 27 March 2009

A 'passion' for space travel

Anousheh Ansari made headlines in 2006 when she paid $20m (£14m) to become the world's first female space tourist.

After a lengthy training programme, Ms Ansari was a late addition to the Soyuz rocket crew after one of the original team was deemed medically unfit to travel.

She successfully completed an eight day stay on board the International Space Station fulfilling her lifelong ambition.

She told Dan Simmons from BBC Click that her dream to go into space was a real "passion".

"I had told my husband, many of my colleagues, and family that if the price of the ticket was my life, I would pay with my life," she said.

But she believes that the cost of space travel needs to be reduced to make it more affordable.

Her own family has been helping to inspire companies to turn the dream of commercial space travel into a reality.

Anousheh Ansari

The Ansaris set up the X Foundation to encourage advances in human space flight.

The X Prize was then created to award $10m (£7m) to the first private team to put a manned reusable craft into space.

The prize was won in 2004 by a team financed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and Virgin Galactic.

But the competition also kick-started investment in space tourism with around $1.5bn (£1bn) being spent by dozens of companies aiming to sell tickets to space.

Ms Ansari said it is her dream that everyone should have the chance to look at the Earth from another perspective.

"I think it changes people's fundamental thinking if you go to space.

"I wish that it was a mandate for presidential candidates because... it has such a deep impact on you, that there is no way you will be able to do anything to harm this planet," she explained.

The businesswoman heads up her own company in Dallas but is still closely involved with projects to explore space.

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