Pakistan’s first astronaut Namira Salim says space brings countries together


Namira Salim is a woman of firsts. She is the first Pakistani astronaut launched in 2006, the first Asian to skydive over Mount Everest and has set world records of traveling to the Earth’s poles.

She believes that space is the perfect solution to world peace. “In the middle of politics, it is great to see that space can bring countries together,” she said.

“There are no boundaries in the space industry,” Salim remarked on SAMAA TV’s morning show Naya Din on Wednesday. She says that the space industry appreciates the accomplishments of everyone, regardless of the country they belong to.

Space is a place where you can look back on earth and see the borders dissolve, she added. Salim urged everyone to become a part of the industry.

“Going to space is not a dream anymore,” she explained. She said scientists, medical experts and other people are now able to explore the universe through space tourism.

She currently works as an astronaut with Virgin Galactic, a British spaceflight company and runs an NGO called Space Trust.

Related: Pakistan champion Fatima Aftab shoots for the sky

“My father first introduced me to the stars,” she said, talking about her childhood. “I was in secondary school when I made a resolution to touch the deepest depth of the ocean and highest high of the sky.”

Salim is also the first female member of Pakistan’s first astronomy society AmastroPak.

“I regularly attended stargazing evening, navigating my way through the stars,” she said. “The night sky became my inspiration and started creating art around those themes.”

In 2006, she was selected as a founder astronaut out of 44,000 candidates in the first private spaceship project. In March 2006, Sir Richard Branson launched her to the world press in Dubai as one of the earlier founders to show consumer confidence in the Virgin Galagtic launch.

She, however, thinks that her greatest achievement was being named as the first Pakistani astronaut. “This is my most precious title,” she remarked.

“Pursuing impossible dreams as a woman has not been easy,” Salim admitted. She trained in the world’s most advanced suborbital spaceflight training at the Nastar Centre, USA in 2007.

Speaking about the training process, she said it assessed her ability to tolerate and adapt to increasing gravitational forces and motion sickness to her prepare her for potential space flights. “The experience was a paradox,” she reminisced. “At first it felt like I was being crushed by a baby elephant, but soon I was floating in space as light as a feather.”

Space Trust is working to find innovative solutions to bring peace in the world.

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