Thanks to Asparagirl for the pointer to this background page on Anousheh Ansari, the woman who's primarily responsible for the establishment and funding of the Ansari X-Prize. I didn't know much about her before, but her story and history are quite fascinating. As Asparagirl points out:

Burt Rutan and Paul Allen have been getting a lot of the credit for their roles in the recent attempt at the prize, and rightly so. But most of the actual prize money, and the prize's name, comes from tech entrepreneur and self-made millionaire Anousheh Ansari, an Iranian-American woman who immigrated to the US at 16--because the hardline Islamicists back in Tehran would not have let her study such unsuitable and unfeminine subjects as math and science.

Iran's loss is the world's gain; Ansari (and her brother-in-law, who also donated some of the prize money) is helping make commercial space travel a real possibility in our lifetimes--heck, a real possibility in just the next 15 years. And as if that weren't enough, she's also a living, breathing, geeky rebuke to the narrow-minded, anti-female, anti-science, anti-progress world of the fundamentalists and ayatollahs.



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