The world's first female space tourist is on her way to the International Space Station.

A Russian Soyuz rocket carrying Anousheh Ansari, an American of Iranian origin, lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan early Monday.

Ansari paid Russia an estimated $20 million for the right to spend several days on the space station and take part in a number of experiments.

She is traveling to the space station with a Russian cosmonaut and an American astronaut who will replace two crewmen on the station.

Space tourist Ansari will return to Earth with the departing crew on September 28.

Ansari came to the United States from Iran in 1984. She and her husband founded and later sold a multi-million-dollar telecommunications company.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Space Shuttle Atlantis and its six-member crew is preparing to return to Earth after four days of spacewalks and construction at the International Space Station.

Atlantis undocked from the station Sunday. The shuttle is scheduled to land at Kennedy Space Center in Florida Wednesday.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AP.