Your Friday morning Ansari update

Anousheh Ansari is still writing posts on her space blog, and plans to continue to do so during her stay on the ISS. MSNBC reports that such space blogging, as well as planned podcasts from the station, won’t come cheap: the data/phone link costs $250,000. The X Prize Foundation is picking up the tab for the link (and is also hosting the blog); maybe they can recoup that by selling a lot of t-shirts at the X Prize Cup next month. A lot of t-shirts.

WFAA-TV in Dallas reports on a minor controversy associated with the flight, namely Ansari’s original plans to wear both the Iranian and US flags on her spacesuit. According to the report, both NASA and Roskosmos officials forbade Ansari from wearing an Iranian flag patch, citing growing tensions about Iran’s nuclear program. The agencies also wanted Ansari to cover the Iranian colors visible in her mission patch; that is “still up in the air.”

RSC Energia published some photos taken Wednesday during the crew’s inspection of their spacecraft and a press conference. In one photo a US flag patch, and only that, is visible on Ansari’s left sleeve. In another photo Ansari’s mission patch is visible on the right breast of her overalls; it doesn’t appear that the Iranian flag colors on it have been covered up.

6 comments to Your Friday morning Ansari update

  • Chance

    I think not allowing her to wear both patches is a bit petty. It’s her trip, she paid for it, and as long as it doesn’t interfere with the operations, health, or welfare of the other participants, why not allow it? I know commercial space might not go anywhere, but I hope so, just to stick it to NASA and their politics.

  • Yeah, agree with the pettiness comment, but, er, it’s not “NASA’s politics.” NASA is a federal agency; NASA takes its marching orders from the Administration du jour. It’s “U.S.” politics–NASA is just stuck in the middle.

  • Chance

    Yeah, you’re right. Backspace delete.

  • Charles Lurio

    I admit my heart is with her freedom to wear both flags, or at least both sets of colors.
    Putting that aside for a moment, I’m curious as to _which_ Iranian flag she was going to wear – pre- revolution, with a lion holding a sword, or the present one, with some unidentifiable symbols taking the lion’s place, but with (I think) the same three color bands.
    The problem I have with the _current_ flag is that given Ahdiminijad’s statements about finishing up what Hitler started, it’s beginning to morph into a swastika flag in my head.

  • Jeff Foust

    Charles: a BBC article has a photo of Ansari with an Iranian flag patch on her right shoulder. Interestingly, the flag patch doesn’t appear to have either the Shah-era lion and sword, or the post-revolutionary symbol, in the center of the flag. Instead, it appears to be a generic tricolor, although the patterns along the borders between the colors appear closer to the current design than the older one.

  • Charles Lurio

    I checked your BBC link, then a site which gives world flags, including pre- and post revolutionary Iran’s. (

    The flag in the BBC photo is the post-revolutionary one, minus the central symbol. The color bands in the pre-and post revolution flags are the same, and in the same order top to bottom. There is a slight difference in the rectangle’s proportions, just judging by eye.

    The other difference between the two, which Ansari’s shoulder patch retains, is that there appears to be highly stylized, repetitive arabic lettering running within the top and bottom color bands bordering the central white band. If it is indeed script and not mere decoration, it’s a repeated short word, not like the Saudi flag with the basic Muslim statement of faith.

    All in all the choice of the post-Shah flag without the inner symbol seems not only something _I_ could live with, but as in (Alan Boyle’s most recent post on) her comments about the flight seems to reflect a very canny sense of diplomacy.

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