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Female space tourist sets up home on ISS station

Deutsche Presse Agentur
Published: Thursday September 21, 2006

Moscow- The first paying female space tourist Anousheh Ansari settled in comfortably on a nine-day stay at the International Space Station (ISS), occupying improvised sleeping quarters away from the five men on the orbiter, Russian officials said Thursday. To afford her some privacy, the Iranian-born US businesswoman was assigned a separate sleeping space in the station's Pirs docking module, according to the flight control centre by Moscow.

Because of the conditions of weightlessness of space, Ansari like other ISS occupants will rest in a sleeping bag that has been tethered to stop it floating around.

Meanwhile, the world's fourth "space tourist" was in good health and using special thigh bands to help her circulation adjust, closely supervised by a doctor on earth.

"We are paying special attention to Ansari because unlike her male colleagues this is her first time in space," a spokeswoman said.

Ansari, who is paying around 20 million US dollars for her trip, docked at the ISS Wednesday in a Soyuz space capsule after a two-day flight.

Accompanying her were Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin and US astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, who will spend six months in orbit as the station's 14th permanent crew.

The digital telecommunications entrepreneur is due to land back on earth in a Soyuz at 0111 GMT on September 29 with outgoing crewmen Pavel Vinogradov of Russia and US astronaut Jeffrey Williams at the end of their half-year mission.

The third current ISS crewman, ESA astronaut Thomas Reiter, is slated to leave on a US space shuttle in December.

During her stay, Ansari will perform scientific experiments for the European Space Agency (ESA), examining causes of anaemia and back pain that affect astronauts in zero gravity.

She is not the first female occupant of the ISS, but her presence is still expected to have a positive effect on the male crews.

"A woman ensures the men stay in good form," former ISS inhabitant Valery Korzun told the Itar-Tass news agency.

"With a lady around you don't go about unwashed and unshaved as you may do when it is an all-male group," said the Russian cosmonaut, who spent six months on the ISS in 2002 with another Russian man and female American astronaut Peggy Whitson.

Meanwhile, the US Space Shuttle Atlantis landed safely in Florida at 1021 GMT Thursday, bringing to a successful end its 11-day mission to resume construction of the ISS.

© 2006 DPA - Deutsche Presse-Agenteur