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Space tourist's blog: 'Hygiene in space is not easy!'

Published September 29, 2006

She says space smells like a "burned almond cookie." She praises the wonders of Velcro, and describes the hazards of trying to wash her hair in zero gravity.

Space tourist Anousheh Ansari's blog offers uncommon insight into everyday life on the international space station through the eyes of an American businesswoman.

Her 10-day adventure ended Thursday night when she touched down in a Soyuz vehicle on the steppes of Kazakhstan along with Russian astronaut Pavel Vinogradov and U.S. astronaut Jeff Williams.

"It is hard for me to write tonight," she wrote Thursday in her last posting from space on the Web site "My emotions are high and there are millions of thoughts going through my head."

The 40-year-old Iranian-born Dallas suburbanite, who sometime signed her entries "Space Cadet," paid $20-million for her adventure. She was a last-minute substitute for a Japanese businessman who failed a medical test for space flight.

Although she has a master's degree in engineering and made a fortune in the telecommunications industry, Ansari's blog entries have been free of tech-heavy jargon, exhibiting an enthusiastic, chatty style. She tackled topics that vintage, tough-guy astronauts would have steered away from: motion sickness, the clumsiness of weightlessness and personal hygiene.

"Well my friends, I must admit keeping good hygiene in space is not easy!" she wrote in the opening of one entry.

She then described washing her hair by opening a water bag to make a huge bubble over her head, rubbing in dry shampoo and then being careful not to make sudden movements that would burst the bubble into small pieces floating everywhere.

Zero gravity has made it impossible to keep objects from drifting away, she wrote.

"So God invented Velcro for this very purpose. Shhhh! Don't tell anyone up here but I've lost a few little things already, like my lip-gloss."

And she wrote about the smell of space - at least the space inside the orbiting lab: "It was strange ... kind of like burned almond cookie."

At least eight astronauts have kept online diaries recording their stay at the space station, but they weren't traditional blogs since readers couldn't post responses, as they have on Ansari's blog.

[Last modified September 29, 2006, 01:26:46]

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