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Fifth Space Tourist Blasts off to Space

Charles Simonyi the head of Microsoft’s application software group became the fifth space tourist after blasting off to space on board the Soyuz TMA-10 spacecraft on April 7, 2007. Simonyi, along with two Russian cosmonauts Fyodor Yurchikhin and Oleg Kotov, reached orbit less than 10 minutes after they left the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

Simonyi will be the fifth civilian to travel in space, for which he paid a reported 25 million dollars. Simonyi was born in Hungary and immigrated to the U.S. in 1968. He worked at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center and created one of the first text editors called Bravo, now considered the forefather of Word. In 1981 Simonyi was hired by Bill Gates to help start Microsoft. 26 years later his net worth is estimated at 1 billion dollars.

While the two cosmonauts will remain in the international space station (ISS) for the next few months, Simonyi will return to earth with the ISS expedition 14 on April 20 making each day of his journey close to a 2 million dollar vacation.

Earlier this week Bigelow Aerospace revealed its space business plan for commercial inflatable manned space modules. Bigelow is planning to launch three large multi-module outposts by 2015 that will serve different purposes. On October 2006 Bigelow Aerospace Corporate Counsel, Michael Gold, talked to TFOT and described the company’s vision for future inflatable space hotels.  

Image: Charles Simonyi (Credit: NASA).