Monday, September 25, 2006
Today Anousheh Ansari, the first female private space explorer, called the Googleplex from the International Space Station. (We're nervously awaiting the long-distance bill.) Larry Page took the call. The topics ranged from what Anousheh forgot to pack (her husband!) to her hopes for the future of space exploration. I took notes. Here are some highlights:
What was the most fun in space?
Flying from one end of the Space Station to the other. She's gotten so good that she can nearly make it all the way without hitting any walls.
What was the biggest surprise?
Seeing the Earth rotate for the first time. Every time Anousheh wants to remind herself that she's really in space, she looks out the window, watches the Earth rotating, and pinches herself to make sure she's still awake.
Larry (wistfully): When can we come up to join you?
You'll have to come up one at a time. In any case, construction is speeding up on the International Space Station, so tourists will probably be fewer for the time being. She hopes Larry can improve the food; although the cheese pasta is fun to chase, it's not much fun to eat. At least there are M&Ms.
What would you change about the space station?
(Fast reply): "Add another shower!" And then - "Add Internet access!" (Wild cheering from Googlers.) Right now email is batched. Larry suggested that Anousheh plan that for her next trip -- and she shot back, "Actually, I'm planning my next trip!"
Do you have anything inspirational to say?
"Explore the boundaries. Try new things. Be free-thinkers and use your imaginations. Learn from your environment, your teachers, your books -- but then go beyond your knowledge. I always wanted to go to space, although I didn't wind up working for NASA. I detoured to different areas, but finally I found a way to make it happen."
After the call ended, Larry commented that Anousheh had been a visionary and an inspiration from the earliest days of the Ansari X Prize. To be inspired yourself, check out her blog.