April 3, 2006

Ex-Microsoft developer plans trip to space: report

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A former software developer at U.S.
giant Microsoft could make a trip to the International Space
Station next year aboard a Russian rocket, the RIA news agency
reported on Monday.

Hungarian-born Charles Simonyi, who was one of the key
developers behind applications such as Microsoft Word, would
become the world's fifth "space tourist."

"A preliminary contract with Simonyi has been concluded for
spring 2007," Alexei Krasnov, head of manned spaceflight
programs at Russian space agency Roskosmos, told RIA.

Simonyi now runs Intentional Software, which he co-founded
in 2002. He is also an experienced pilot.

Japanese entrepreneur Daisuke Enomoto is in training and is
expected to fly later this year.

At the moment space tourists take off with a two-man
Russian-U.S. crew in a Soyuz rocket, spend just over a week at
the space station and return to earth with the outgoing crew.
The trip comes with a reported price tag of $20 million.

Russia can also sell spare seats on its spacecraft to
governments. Brazil's first astronaut Marcos Pontes arrived at
the station on Saturday.