The title of ‘First Pakistani Astronaut’ makes Namira Salim very special, perhaps, it’s even better than being a Princess! Her success story speaks itself, 'Nothing is impossible and dreams do come true'. She was born in 1975 in Karachi to a Pakistani family settled in Southern France and has spent much of her time in Dubai as well.
Namira is the first Pakistani to have reached the North Pole in April 2007 and the South Pole in January 2008. She also holds the distinction of being the first Muslim and first Pakistani to skydive over Mount Everest during the historic 'First Everest Skydives 2008'. Namira, being the only Pakistani member of Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic, the world's first commercial space liner, is widely known as the first Pakistani to travel into space.
After her successful expedition of North Pole she expressed her feelings in these words, 'It is great honour to represent my country as the first Pakistani citizen at the Geographic North Pole during the ‘International Polar Year’ that marks the challenge of climate change our planet faces'. She further said, as I hoist the Pakistan flag at the pinnacle of our planet, I convey a universal message of peace and to assert to the global community that Pakistani nation is peace loving and tolerant nation.
Namira’s interest in flying and traveling in space first emerged when she was a student at Columbia University, New York doing her master’s degree in international affairs when she decided to take flying lessons. After she graduated she founded the Pakistani branch of Aiesec, a worldwide student organization offering opportunities to work and study abroad.
She was chosen out of 44,000 people by Richard Branson to be included in first 100 space tourists for flights that were offered by the firm Virgin Galactic. Hence became the first Pakistani let alone, the first Pakistani woman to travel in space. She undertook the complete Astronaut training in America and undertook the two-hour long space journey in 2009/10.
It was a sub-orbital flight which broke the boundary between earth and space. She along with others had the honour and thrill of staying in space for 15 minutes. For this, she received the award of 'Commercial Astronaut Wing' from the US Federal Aviation Authority. She completed her last term of training in a TS-400 Simulator during which she experienced weightlessness and other forces that are present in a space flight.
In October 2007, Namira trained and qualified for her suborbital Spaceflight at the NASTAR Centre in the United States, under the supervision of Virgin Galactic. In February 2008, she presented her Sub-Orbital Spaceflight Training Certificate to former President Pervez Musharraf.
Through all her art exhibits and polar expeditions, Namira Salim has been honoured for avidly promoting Peace and goodwill. On 23 March 2011, President of Pakistan conferred Namira with one of the country's highest civil decoration Tamgha-e-Imtiaz (Medal of Excellence).
Although she is a distinguished resident of the Principality of Monaco since 1997, Namira has spent much of her life in Dubai, where her family has been based since 1981. Namira Salim's efforts led to the diplomatic accreditation between Pakistan and Monaco in February 2009. His Highness Prince Albert II's Sovereign Ordinance dated 1st August 2011, authorized Namira Salim to practice her function as the First Honorary Consul of Pakistan to the Principality of Monaco.
On March 2012, His Highness Prince Albert II, the Sovereign Prince of Monaco inaugurated the First Consulate of Pakistan in a high profile ceremony organized by Namira Salim at the prestigious Oceanographic Museum of Monaco. Namira Salim's activities are widely written about in the international press.
Namira Salim is an inspirational role model for women not only in Pakistan but in South Asia and even the world. She was able to carry the Pakistani flag and her passion into space because of her determination and will. She has set a bench-mark for women not only in Pakistan but everywhere for those who want to follow their dreams and the message that success would follow suit.
Namira Salim also happens to be Pakistan’s honorary tourism ambassador and in one of her interviews she said 'As Pakistan’s Honorary Ambassador of Tourism, I’d like to invite the world to experience Pakistan’s rich culture and to touch the world’s top most mountain peaks, like the K-2'.