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Tourist Travel to Space

June 20, 2009

Filed under: life,travel — Terry Wohlers @ 12:43

Billionaire Charles Simonyi shelled out $35 million for a second trip to space in March 2009, again on a Russian spacecraft. His first trip, priced at $25 million, was in April 2007. That’s when he spent 14 days on the International Space Station (ISS). His more recent trip was a 13-day adventure on the ISS.

I had the pleasure of meeting a good friend of Simonyi’s who attended the first launch in Kazakhstan, Russia. He said the explosion from the launch was absolutely horrifying. Before it, he had visited the men’s room at the launch site where the plumbing was appalling. It occurred to him that the Soyuz TMA-14—the Russian space craft that Simonyi was on—had more than a few pipes and fittings that needed to perform. The state of the men’s room plumbing left him wondering.

Two days before the March 26 launch, Simonyi’s friend told me that Simonyi might give him a call from space if he gets a chance. Can you imagine receiving a phone call from someone on the International Space Station? I later found out that Simonyi indeed made the call.

Simonyi made his fortune at Microsoft as an executive responsible for the company’s flagship Office applications. In November 2008, the 60-year old married a 28-year old Swedish socialite—his first marriage. His friend told me that he attended the wedding in Sweden where Bill Gates was a groomsman. The friend worked closely with Gates and Simonyi at Microsoft.

Simonyi became the world’s first tourist to travel to space twice. He promised his new wife that the second trip to space would be his last.