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Space Tourist Returns To Earth --> Ansari (right) and her husband Hamid shortly after the landing (epa) September 29, 2006 -- The world's first woman space tourist has returned to Earth.

Anousheh Ansari was greeted with red roses as she emerged from a Russian Soyuz capsule that touched down in Kazakhstan this morning.

"I want to tell Iranian women that they can achieve whatever they want," she told journalists. "They are all brave women, and so they can achieve whatever they think and dream about."

The capsule was also carrying two professional astronauts back from the International Space Station, Russian Pavel Vinogradov and American Jeff Williams.

"I looked out of my window and I saw the grassland and I knew we were on the Earth, it felt good," Williams said. "It wasn't too difficult. I actually expected more of a bump on the ground, but it wasn't bad at all."

Earlier, Ansari said her trip had been "magnificent" and that she hoped to do it again one day.

The Iranian-born U.S. businesswoman is thought to have paid about $20 million for 11 days in space.


The Post-Soviet Environment
The skull of a male saiga antelope in Kalmykia. Saiga numbers have collapsed disastrously over the last decade. (

THE FRAGILE PLANET: Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, old environmental disasters have come to light and new ones have emerged. War, poverty, and weak central-government control have led to serious environmental problems from Eastern Europe to the Russian Far East. RFE/RL has provided extensive coverage of these important issues and of efforts to cope with them.


Saiga Antelope's Saga Attracts New Allies

Project To Reverse Aral Sea Damage Making Progress

Iraqi Marshes Show Signs Of Strong Recovery

Deforestation Rampant In South And Central Asia

Environmentalist Says BTC Pipeline Could Be 'Death Of Caspian'

Scientists Raise Alarm As Man-Made Deserts Spread

Nature Waits For Cross-Border Sanctuaries To Catch On

Central Asian Vllagers Encouraged To Protect Snow Leopards

Environmentalists Raise Concerns About Russian Ecology Policy


RFE/RL coverage of environmental issues.