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First Muslim woman in space on a mission to connect rural Rajasthan with world
Wednesday January 6, 2016 9:30 PM, News Desk

Anousheh Ansari

Blasted off for an eight day expedition aboard the International Space Station (ISS) becoming first female private space explorer and capturing headlines as the first astronaut of Iranian descent, the first Muslim woman and the fourth private explorer to visit space, Anousheh Ansari is also an active proponent of world-changing technologies and social entrepreneurship.

This is perhaps why hundreds of miles away from her home in the United States she is in rural Rajasthan to help poor villagers get connected with the world.

With ChangeLabs and ILFS India, Anousheh Ansari through her venture Prodea has partnered with the State Government of Rajasthan to understand how to extend with the help of technology financial, educational, employment, and entrepreneurial opportunities, in addition to governance and infrastructure access, to rural communities in India.

“The program is enabling people in the area to come online. I go to rural Rajasthan, and there’s a 4G network. But people there don’t always have the devices to access the internet – a lot of them don’t even know what it is except for incarnations like Whatsapp and Facebook” Anousheh said in a recent interview with Tech In Asia.

“So, Prodea wants to bring such people online”, she said.

Prodea's full suite of managed services can provide Seamless Living and is enabled via the ROS platform. ROS provides an open and extensible foundation for delivering seamless experiences across the Smart Connected Home. As an open and extensible platform, we view partnerships as a critical avenue to achieve success and work with leading companies for Technology, Applications & Services, and Device manufactures.

“Seeing as most of them TVs, the company provides devices that turn them into two-way communication screens with internet access. The devices allow the user to view available services by just using the TV remote, which doesn’t require much effort to get used to”, she said.

“This helps people connect to services and information they were previously excluded from such as government benefits and advice about agriculture and entrepreneurship”, Anousheh said.

About her space mission, Anousheh said going to space was her life-long dream, along with becoming an astrophysicist. Growing up in her homeland, Iran, she would lie in her balcony and get lost in the night skies, dreaming she would one day be among the stars.

While in space, Ansari maintained a blog (becoming the first person to blog from space!) that detailed her experiences while in the International Space Station (ISS). She talked about her days on the station and the strange and exciting sensations and adventures she had while learning to adjust to life in zero gravity.

“I was fascinated by the sheer mystery of space, what’s out there, what’s it like, and how I could get there,” she said.

Anousheh also has a piece of advice for women, especially the Muslim women who while living in a family with conservative background fail to accomplish their targets because of restrictions.

“I know women sometimes start believing they’re not meant to do something, especially when there are cultural or family restrictions where they live, so they put that limitation on themselves. Even if the opportunity comes, they don’t see it, they’ve forgotten about it. So it’s important not to forget, to always be prepared”, she said giving the example of her own dream.


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