First female space tourist, US citizen Anousheh Ansari, successfully completed her flight into space and landed together with astronauts Pavel Vinogradov and Jeffrey Williams. The capsule with the astronauts landed in the Kazakhstan steppe right in the area where it was expected. The landing conditions were rather severe as the temperature made up 3 degrees below zero.
The space tourist was happily greeted by her husband and sister who presented Anousheh with flowers and kissed her. Experts immediately examined each of the astronauts to find out if their hearts, respiratory systems and adrenal glands functioned well. When collected, the information about their health was sent directly to the US Mission Control in Houston.
Doctors say that rehabilitation and getting back to the earthly living will take the astronauts a definite period of time. It is planned that soon after the landing the astronauts together with the space tourist will have press-conferences with journalists.
Today, when astronauts have an opportunity to have regular training in the orbit and use special equipment and costumes they get back to Earth in a much better state of health than their predecessors did decades ago. For instance, people say that the return of Soviet astronauts Andriyan Nikolayev and Vitaly Sevastyanov back to Earth after 18 days in space in 1970 was rather depressing. Both astronauts stayed in bed at a health resort in the city of Karaganda. Andriyan Nikolayev was so weak after the flight that he could not even hold a spoon in his hand. Later, he had an infarction.
Today, space flight conditions are much better than years ago but still doctors insist that astronauts should be particularly cautious in the first days after landing. On September 22, when Atlantis successfully landed after its 12-days flight, Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper collapsed when she was going to speak at a special greeting ceremony. When she regained consciousness and wanted to continue her speech, she once again fainted and people by her side braced her and lowered her to the ground. Experts explain that under the conditions of weightlessness human hearts slightly ‘forget’ about the earth gravity and the blood supply to the head gets problematic in the first moments after coming back from space flights. So, Russian doctors take the peculiarity into consideration and make sure that astronauts have a more rational regime.
Various sources state that Anousheh Ansari paid from $20 million to $21 million for the flight. And it is quite obvious that space tourism will grow even more expensive because of the big inflation and the dollar weakening on the world market. Russia’s Roskosmos space agency told NASA that prospective space tourists would have to pay $21.8 million for 10-11 days in space. At that, some unofficial sources inform that American astronauts who go into space with Russian Soyuz spacecraft also pay about $12 million for a flight.
For the time being, Roskosmos and NASA are negotiating future flights of American astronauts with Soyuz spacecraft in 2007-2008. It is also likely that an extra Soyuz spaceship may be docked to the International Space Station for an additional payment which may be used as a rescue spaceship. In this case, it can be used for evacuation of the shuttle crew if it has some technical failures after reaching the ISS.
Translated by Maria Gousseva