Friday, December 01, 2006
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Scuba diving in Aruba
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One of the most unforgettable experiences while in Aruba is scuba diving. You can see a fabulous array of corals and fish, spot a seahorse for the very first time in your life and see how stingrays hover above the seabed. If you swim slowly over the corals, you're bound to see lobsters or moray eels. If you're lucky, you may even come across a sea turtle, gentle and curious as they are.
Diving equipment may seem pretty complicated to the uninitiated. Should you choose to enrol for a one-hour course in a pool you'll find it's not as difficult as it seems. You'll learn to clear your mask underwater within a couple of minutes! This may sound as if it is only meant for people who instinctively know what to do, but anybody can do it! Your diving instructor will patiently practice the diving skills with you, until you feel comfortable and in control of your equipment. After the pool session you can dive with your instructor and other divers-to be at various dive-sites on Aruba.
The south coast holds fascinating and calm spots since this is the lee side of the island and as a result waves and currents are not so strong. The northern coast is also spectacular, though much rougher, as the sea splashes onto the shore with more momentum from a much longer distance. Off the south coast of Aruba, you can do a reef dive at Mangel Alto which is located between Oranjestad and San Nicolas, near the drive-in cinema. There is an abundance of corals in all shapes, colors and sizes; and fish with colors from electric blue to bright orange make this dive more than worthwhile. You can also go reef-diving at Baby Beach, at the eastern-most part of Aruba, and also at Malmok, near the California light house up north.
Another popular place to go diving is at the 'Antillian' shipwreck, which dates from World War II. When you approach the wreck on a boat, which your diving instructor takes care of, you can see part of the ship sticking out of the water.
Once submerged, you'll discover how huge the ship actually is. It stretches to over 400 feet and can now be considered to be a man-made reef, as there is so much marine life in and around it.
You might have one niggling question: "Great fun, but what about sharks?". Sharks are often portrayed in movies as vicious and aggressive man-eaters. In reality, however, sharks keep to themselves and the chances of getting injured by a shark are much less than the chances of being struck by lightning! It's good to learn sharks prefer to keep to themselves and don't bother you as long you don't bother them. Other dangerous fish will leave you alone if you leave them alone. Sharks are more like scavengers than predators, and it is very rare to get injured by marine animals. Accidents only happen if the animal feels it has to defend itself because it is being provoked in some way by divers. The golden rule for divers is to dive sensibly and responsibly. Some corals and sponges may be harmful but this will only be the case if you touch them. In case you accidentally touch or scrape one, your dive master can quite easily treat the sting with an ointment he will carry with him to the diving location.
This is by far the most popular type of diving. Depending on where you planned your dive, you'll be able to see corals of all shapes and sizes and in all colors; shipwrecks and rock formations. Each place you choose to go diving has its own uniqueness and every time you go, will be different from the last. The fact that after a dive even the most professional and experienced divers still come out of the water with new and interesting experiences speaks for itself!
In addition to reef diving, night diving is also very popular. Reefs look completely different at night. The combination of spectacular reefs combined with the adventure taking place at night will give you a thrill you'll never forget! An underwater torch will enable you to get a clearer look at all there is to see.
The next most popular dive type is wreck diving. Let your imagination run free and add to the mysteriousness of these age-old wrecks lying at the bottom of the sea. Where was the captain's cabin? What caused the ship to sink? Was it a war ship? You may prefer to read about the wreck you're about to explore beforehand. You can always ask your diving center to provide you with the information you want. Once down there, you'll aIso find numerous fish in and around the wreck since most wrecks serve as a plentiful source of food, with a large variety of marine vegetation thriving in the area.
In diving terms, a wall means a steep plunge of the seabed, going down for many metres. Many divers find this the best way to go diving, since many fish live and feed off the wall. The vastness of the blue water above and beyond the wall is a thrilling feeling! Underwater cameras are for sale at very reasonable prices or can be rented for the occasion, allowing you to make some great pictures to take home with you and show your friends.
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Saturday, September 30, 2006
Space Adventures' Client, Anousheh Ansari, Returns to Earth After Visiting the International Space Station
Payvand's Iran News 9/29/06
World’s first female private space explorer completes historic spaceflight
Space Adventures, Ltd., the world's leading space experiences company, announced today (September 28) that Anousheh Ansari successfully landed in the Kazakhstan steppes after an eight-day visit to the International Space Station (ISS). Mrs. Ansari returned to Earth aboard Soyuz TMA-8 with members of the Expedition 13 crew Jeff Williams and Pavel Vinogradov, who were relieved after their six-month assignment aboard the ISS.
"The experience was more than I had ever imagined; it has exceeded every expectation. Seeing the Earth from space will be forever etched into my mind. I have enjoyed each day to the fullest. I would like to thank Space Adventures for providing the flight opportunity, the crews of Expedition 13 and 14 who made me feel very welcomed during my time spent aboard the ISS and all those in who helped me prepare for this adventure," said Mrs. Ansari, chairman and co-founder of Prodea Systems, Inc., a revolutionary digital home technology company. "I hope those around the world who followed my mission consider what their own dreams are and pursue them, as I have done with mine."
"We, at Space Adventures, are excited to welcome Anousheh back to Earth and congratulate her on this historic spaceflight. She is a true space visionary and it is our hope that her dedication to the development of commercial human spaceflight will be an inspiration to the rest of the world," said Eric Anderson, president and CEO of Space Adventures.
Earlier in the month, on September 18, Mrs. Ansari launched aboard Soyuz TMA-9 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. She joined Expedition 14 commander Michael Lopez-Alegria and flight engineer Mikhail Tyurin for the flight. They arrived at the space station on Sept. 20 and were greeted by the Expedition 13 crew.
In preparation for her spaceflight, Mrs. Ansari completed a cosmonaut training program at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center located in Star City, Russia. Space Adventures has previously sent three private explorers to space. In 2001, American Dennis Tito fulfilled his dream of space travel, and in 2002, the 'First African in Space' Mark Shuttleworth launched and, last October, American Greg Olsen took flight.
Mrs. Ansari is a successful entrepreneur. She is chairman and co-founder of Prodea Systems, Inc. and a member of the X Prize Foundation's Vision Circle, as well as its Board of Trustees. She was also the title sponsor for the Ansari X Prize, a $10 million (USD) cash prize for the first non-governmental organization to launch a reusable manned spacecraft into space twice within two weeks. Prior to co-founding Prodea Systems, in 2006, Mrs. Ansari co-founded Telecom Technologies, Inc., where she served as the company's co-founder, chief executive officer and chairman. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in electronics and computer engineering from George Mason University and a Master of Science degree in electrical engineering from The George Washington University. She is currently working toward a Master of Science degree in astronomy from Swinburne University.
Space Adventures, the only company to have successfully launched private explorers to space, is headquartered in Vienna, Va. with offices in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Moscow and Tokyo. It offers a variety of programs such as the availability today for spaceflight missions to the International Space Station and around the moon, Zero-Gravity and jet flights, cosmonaut training, spaceflight qualification programs and reservations on future suborbital spacecrafts. The company's advisory board includes Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin, Shuttle astronauts Sam Durrance, Robert Gibson, Tom Jones, Byron Lichtenberg, Norm Thagard, Kathy Thornton, Pierre Thuot, Charles Walker, Skylab astronaut Owen Garriott and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Usachev.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Clinton kicks off appeal to fight global problems.
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former U.S. President Bill Clinton called together some of the world's richest and most influential people on Wednesday in hopes of coming up with more than $2.5 billion and ideas on how to stop conflict, health woes, poverty and climate change.
Among 1,000 people attending the second annual Clinton Global Initiative, or CGI -- many paying $15,000 each -- were billionaire businessmen Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Richard Branson, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan and 50 current and former heads of state.
"CGI was designed to tackle big global challenges in bite size pieces with the conviction that regardless of size or scope our problems will yield to concerted action and innovative partnerships," Clinton told the summit.
He said five commitments worth $350 million had already been made to the 2006 Clinton Global Initiative.
The New York-based initiative grew out of Clinton's frustration while president of the United States, between 1993 and 2001, at attending conferences on important world issues that were simply all talk and no action.
"While we certainly like commitments with lots of zeros behind them, when you consider the hundreds that were made and kept over this past year, some of those with smaller budgets had very large impacts indeed," Clinton said.
"I hope each of us can do even more this year than last."
The inaugural Clinton summit in 2005 attracted more than 300 pledges worth $2.5 billion to fight poverty, global health problems, religious and ethnic conflict and climate change.
Clinton said that about 15 people -- of the more than 500 -- who attended last year and didn't make or didn't keep a commitment were not allowed to return this year.
The 2006 initiative was opened by Clinton and U.S. first lady Laura Bush and a discussion between Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana.
The first lady announced the first commitment of the initiative -- $10 million from the U.S. government to kickstart a $60 million public/private project to build children's merry-go-rounds in Africa, which pump clean drinking water into a storage tank.
"Play pumps are fueled by a limitless energy source -- children at play," said Bush, adding that the project aimed to provide clean drinking water to 10 million Sub-Saharan Africans by 2010.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Anousheh Ansari Space Blog
First blog post from space!
"... I was finally able to take a look outside and saw the Earth for the first time… Tears started rolling down my face. I could not catch my breath… Even thinking about it now still brings tears to my eyes. Here it was this beautiful planet turning graciously about itself, under the warm rays of the Sun… so peaceful…so full of life… no signs of war, no signs of borders, no signs of trouble, just pure beauty…
How I wished everyone could experience this feeling in their heart, specially those who are at the head of the governments in the world. may be this experience would give them a new perspective and help bring peace to the world."
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Wallops should embrace space tourism idea
Virginia-educated millionairess, Anousheh Ansari, is set to make history by being lofted into orbit to the International Space Station by a Russian Soyuz rocket to become the first woman commercial tourist astronaut. She will be wearing a spaceflight patch with the motto: "Imagine, Inspire, Be the Change."
Space Adventures Ltd., a Virginia-based commercial space firm, negotiated the contract with the Russian Space Agency. Anasari is a major investor in the commercial space tourism entity, having completed hundreds of millions of dollars of space tourism business around the globe.
Space Adventures has partnered with Ansari's investment firm, Prodea Systems Inc., to contract with the Russian Space Agency to build a fleet of suborbital spacecraft. The spacecraft would enable humans around the world to fly over 100 kilometers into space as tourists beginning in late 2008 at the cost of less than $200,000 with ticket prices expected to fall to $50,000 in the years ahead.
Eric Anderson, president and CEO of Space Adventures and a University of Virginia engineering graduate, has executed agreements to start construction on commercial tourist spaceports in the United Arab Emirates and Singapore in partnership with those foreign governments.
Commercial human tourist spaceports have been or are in process of bring licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration in Mojave, Calif., Burns Flat, Ok., Upham, N.M., and Sheboygan, Wis. Three spaceport locations are in various stages of development in Texas along with another being developed in Nova Scotia, Canada.
Futon Corp., a Bethesda, Md.-based credentialed aerospace research firm, recently found that the human suborbital space tourism business is expected to be a $1 billion industry by 2020.
Virginia is host to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops. Unlike nearly all the commercial tourist spaceports being touted, it has the launch runways, tracking and telemetry facilities needed to be a part of the human suborbital space tourist business.
Moreover, it is geographically positioned along the East Coast population of the United States. The Accomack County spaceport does need, however, a new and innovative penchant for human suborbital space tourism's entrepreneurial culture.
To get a major piece of the anticipated billion-dollar space tourism business, Virginia government executives and legislators need to focus on incentives to attract Virginia's own Space Adventures to base its East Coast human suborbital launches near Chincoteague. Editors and journalists may elect to ask officials why one of America's oldest spaceports is not yet a significant part of the coming human suborbital space-tourism commercialization.
Double-time effort to correct the benign neglect of Virginia's spaceport should be made. The economic impact and spinoffs in tourist dollars, new business and infrastructure development, high technology workforce recruitment and rekindled interest by K-12 and university students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics may be all that is at stake in the Alternative Space industry.
American millionairess boards space station
KOROLEV, Russia AFP 20/09/2006 18:11
The first ever female space tourist Anousheh Ansari of the United States has settled into the International Space Station (ISS) for a multi-million dollar cosmic holiday.
Ansari, whose Soyuz spacecraft safely docked with the ISS Wednesday after completing its journey from Earth, will spend the next eight days on board with five professional astronauts.
Ground control at Korolev, outside Moscow, showed live footage of Ansari and two astronauts travelling with her entering the station and embracing the current occupants.
Ansari, wearing a black baseball cap and a yellow shirt, smiled broadly as she entered the station. On Earth, space officials and Ansari's relatives applauded.
"She made history. She's very lucky to have a great crew and she had great training," Hamid Ansari, her husband, told АFР when the Soyuz vessel docked with the ISS.
An Iranian-born US citizen and telecoms tycoon, Ansari is the world's fourth space tourist. She accompanied NASA's Michael Lopez-Alegria and Russia's Mikhail Tyurin to the ISS.
The three blasted off Monday from Russia's Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Their Soyuz craft docked at 0521 GMT, space flight officials said at the Korolev centre outside Moscow.
"We'll look after her," Tyurin told her relatives on Earth in a video link-up with the crew. Hamid Ansari congratulated her, as relatives expressed pride and joy.
On Monday, a possible chemical leak aboard the ISS gave a brief scare when the ventilation system was shut down. The three ISS occupants put on surgical masks and gloves after a bad odour alerted them to a possible leak.
Ansari's sister Atousa Raissyan said her determined sibling's childhood dream of entering space was always bound to come true. "I knew she would do it sooner or later."
Ansari, 40, will return to Earth on September 28 with two of the station's current occupants, Russia's Pavel Vinogradov and American Jeffrey Williams. Thomas Reiter from Germany will stay on board.
Ansari is thought to have paid about 25 million dollars (20 million euros) for the flight, which she has said is the realisation of her childhood dreams.
Born in 1966 in Iran, Ansari left the country for the United States with her parents at the age of 16 shortly after the Islamic revolution and launched herself into the study of electronics and data processing.
She made millions in telecoms and her family has gone on to invest in technology and space exploration, contributing 10 million dollars to the X Foundation, set up to encourage advances in human space flight.
"She is a very determined, resolute woman," Eric Anderson, chairman of Space Adventures, the company behind her flight to the ISS, said earlier in a telephone interview with АFР.
Before setting off, Ansari said: "I hope that not only my flights, but the life I have lived so far, become an inspiration for all youth all over the world, especially women and girls around the world to pursue their dreams."
Anousheh Ansari Space Blog
First blog post from space?
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
by Ursula Hyzy
Mon Sep 18, 12:21 PM ET
BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan (AFP) - The world's first female space tourist has launched her multi-million dollar adventure, blasting off with two professional astronauts from the Baikonur cosmodrome bound for the International Space Station (ISS).
The Russian-made Soyuz rocket left the Russian base in Kazakhstan Monday at 0408 GMT carrying a Soyuz TMA-9 capsule and its three passengers: Iranian-born US citizen and millionaire tourist Anousheh Ansari, NASA's Michael Lopez-Alegria and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin.
The capsule successfully separated minutes later and entered orbit, with docking at the ISS expected Wednesday.
"The flight is on course," ground control announced as the Soyuz, powered by 270 tonnes of low-temperature oxygen and kerosene fuel, left Earth.
Meanwhile, space officials at NASA and in Russia announced an emergency ventilation shutdown aboard the ISS after an alarm signalled a possible chemical leak.
Astronauts on the station temporarily donned surgical gloves and masks as a precaution.
"The situation has stabilized and it has been reported back down by the crew that there was never any smoke in the cabin. However there was a smell associated with KOH (potassium hydroxide)," American ISS manager Mike Suffredini told reporters at Cape Canaveral.
Ansari, 40, will spend about eight days aboard the ISS before returning to Earth on September 28 with two of the station's current occupants, Russia's Pavel Vinogradov and American Jeffrey Williams.
Lopez-Alegria and engineer Tyurin will then man the ISS along with Germany's Thomas Reiter, who has been in space since early July.
Ansari's family shed tears of joy as her Soyuz rocket shot above the Kazakh steppe.
Then came the champagne.
"Pure joy! I'm just so happy for her -- beyond words," Ansari's sister Atousa Raissyan said.
Ansari's mother, Fakhri Shahidi, watched the craft surge skyward in amazement. "It's hard to believe my daughter is going to space," she said. "I pray with all my heart she's coming back soon".
Ansari, who came to the United States with her parents from Iran when she was 16, made a fortune in the US telecoms market and had dreamt for years of going into orbit. Her X PRIZE Foundation promotes making space more accessible to the wider public.
She is believed to have paid some 25 million dollars (20 million euros) and trained for six months in Russia's Star City facility in order to become the fourth space tourist in history.
"I feel relieved she's up there," her husband Hamid Ansari said after the blast-off. "The anticipation is over. It's the beginning of a new chapter in her life. I can't wait to see her come back."
Iranian media sung Ansari's praises. "The trip into space of Anousheh Ansari is a source of pride for all Iranians," the Hambasteghi newspaper added.
The Kayhan daily also reported on Ansari's trip, quoting her as saying she "wanted to look at Iran from space".
Even before lift-off, Ansari was able to savour the good-luck rituals at Russia's Baikonur site in Kazakhstan, some of them dating back to the 1960s and the glory years of Soviet space exploration.
On their last evening before entering space, Ansari and her two professional crewmates watched the classic Soviet movie "White Sun of the Desert," something every crew has done since the film gained a reputation for bringing luck in the wake of the June 1971 Soyuz 11 accident that killed three cosmomnauts.
Since then, there have been no fatal accidents.
Before departing, the three space travelers also took a moment to autograph the doors of their room -- echoing the last-minute gesture of Yuri Gagarin, who in 1961 took off from Baikonur to become the first man in space.
Anousheh Ansari Space Blog
First blog post from space?