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Namira — first female astronaut from Dubai

A Staff Reporter
Filed on April 2, 2006

DUBAI — She just can't wait to cross the final frontier — outer space — and witness the sheer beauty of the cosmos and the high heavens, says a euphoric Namira Salim, who has the distinction to be the first female astronaut from Dubai.

“I can only fantasise how it would feel to fly, to float, to be weightless for at least five minutes,” gushes Namira, who is scheduled to fly off into space on a Virgin Galactic space tourism flight by 2008.

The whole idea is about a life-time yearning — a dream that commercial space travel will become a reality in my lifetime. And for me it has, says Namira, who is among several enthusiasts who have paid Dh734,000 to be part of Virgin's commercial space flights.

“As a little child, I cried because I wanted to fly into outer space. My parents found it hard to pacify me with toys. I also wanted to explore the depths of the ocean floor as much as I wanted to sail across the high heavens. And so I became a PADI-certified scuba diver and also a student pilot.”

Namira is also the first lady member of the first Astronomy Society of Pakistan, Amastropak.

Dr David McNaughton, Dubai's leading astronomer and meteorologist, became her mentor and consultant, further fuelling her interest in a space odyssey. Says Namira, “Being a pioneer and representing one's nation and country of residence and making history is extremely exciting.”

“As a founder member, I am making a higher initial monetary contribution but this would allow others to take the same space flight at a much more affordable price in the near future,” says the artist, who was born in Pakistan but has been staying in Dubai for the past 25 years.

“I am also proud to be contributing to the birth of this new industry (commercial space tourism for common man), by contributing ideas, and attending events planned by industry leaders for future space tourists,” she said.

Namira is also an artist and will be publishing her first poetry book this year about her future space travel with Virgin Galactic — which is owned by another modern visionary — Sir Richard Branson.





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