"How do you put a price on your Dream? Is it worth one month’s salary? Is it worth one year’s salary? Is it worth your child’s college savings account? Is it worth all your retirement money? Is it worth losing a limb? Is it worth dying for? What is the right price for a dream?

I don’t have an answer for it. But I believe it is different for every person. For me, I was ready, and still am, to give my life for my dream."

Apparently, for Anousheh Ansari, the first Iranian astronaut, the price for a dream is about $20 million.  That was the cost of this woman's tourist journey to space. 

This September, Anousheh had the opportunity to to take a 10-day exploration in outer space, which included a 2-day tour of the International Space Station.  Her experiences are documented in detail in her blog, which include tales of space training, motion sicknesses, lack-of-gravity-inspired disorientation, and of course, spectacular mid-orbital views of our planet.

Anousheh is now the fourth person to pay a large sum of money to become a space tourist, following in the footsteps of American Dennis Tito, South Afrian Mark Shuttleworth, and American Greg Olsen.  Japan's Daisuke Enomoto was also scheduled for a space tour, but the failure of a medical test earlier this summer brought his travel plans to a halt and allowed Anousheh's trip to happen.

After earning bachelors' and masters' degrees in electronics and electrical engineering, Anousheh Ansari was able to set up her own telecommunications company in 1993, which eventually sold for hundreds of millions of dollars.  Having a long-time interest in all things outer space, Anousheh contributed part of this fortune to the space industry, including a $10 million donation to the X Prize Foundation.  The Foundation gives monetary prizes to projects in science that achieve a designated goal.  

In 2004, the Mojave Aerospace Ventures won the $10 million Ansari X Prize, which eventually led to the launch of a spacecraft, on which Anousheh Ansari had the pleasure of traveling.

Before and during her journey, Anousheh was able to answer emails and periodically post blog entries about what it was like to be in space.  The blog received much attention in the news, as well as several hundred comments from interested readers.  Most comments on the blog were positive, with blog readers commending Anousheh for both her philanthropist efforts in donating money to space research and the Ansari X Prize. 

A constant theme through discussion of space tourists, however, has been criticism: some do not believe that space tourism should be possible, as space tourists can interfere with operations on the space station, or possibly put professional astronaut's lives in danger.  Space tourists have also been criticized for being extravagant: $20 million is a pretty high price to pay for a 10-day vacation. 

But for the small budget of organizations like the Russian Space Agency, space tourism is a blessing.  For example, the $20 million paid by Dennis Tito in 2001 for his space travel represented 15% of the agency's annual budget.

I find it particularly amazing that, not only can humans send "space  tourists" into orbit, but that the technology exists for these tourists to maintian their blogs while they're up there.  Here on Earth, we're still talking about Chinese bloggers being an amazing feat.  But i think the space bloggers are even more impressive.  Maybe someday Technorati and Google will be tracking alien blogs from other solar systems!  Anousheh's space blog truly is a marvel of modern technology.