Space Tourist Thrilled to Be on Space Station

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The first paying female space tourist said Friday she felt a little queasy on her rocket ride to the international space station but she since has been enjoying every minute of her cosmic trip.

"The entire experience has been wonderful up here," said Iranian-American Anousheh Ansari, a Dallas businesswoman who paid the Russian space agency $20 million to ride in the Soyuz vehicle to the orbiting space lab.

Ansari said the trip to the station "was not fun for me" since she experienced back pain, a headache and motion sickness.

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But her favorite moment came during the ride when she saw Earth for the first time.

It was "so beautiful and peaceful ... It was something I will never forget," she said.

Ansari arrived at the space station with two new station crew members last Wednesday, only days after space shuttle Atlantis departed the orbiting outpost 220 miles above Earth.

U.S. commander Michael Lopez-Alegria and Russian flight engineer Mikhail Tyurin will replace Russian commander Pavel Vinogradov and U.S. flight engineer Jeff Williams, who along with Ansari return to Earth next week.

Thomas Reiter of the European Space Agency remains at the station, which has 15,000 cubic feet of inhabitable space.

"It's always a great experience if you get guests up here, being together for quite some time," Reiter said. "It's really fun to have them. Of course, at the moment, in certain places, it's a little bit tighter."

Two days before the Soyuz arrived, on Monday, the 8-year-old space station had the first emergency ever declared when a Russian oxygen generator overheated, spilled a toxic irritant, melted a rubber seal and produced puffs of smoke.

NASA said the crew members' lives were never in any danger. They cleaned up the spill with towels, and a charcoal filter scrubbed the irritant out of the air.

The space station crew never at any time considered going to the Soyuz vehicle attached to the station for emergency escapes, Williams said. Crew members planned to replace parts on the generator on Saturday.

"We never though we were anywhere near the point of having to go to the Soyuz," Williams said. "We just executed the procedures and it all worked out great."