April 3, 2009

Billionaire Delayed on Returning Home From Space

Charles Simonyi, a 60-year-old billionaire U.S. space tourist, will return to Earth from the International Space Station (ISS) a day later than scheduled due to bad weather on Earth, a Russian space official said Friday.

Simonyi made history by becoming the first space tourist to visit the International Space Station twice.  He will touch down in Kazakhstan on Wednesday in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, the official said.

"The landing has been shifted by one day to April 8 due to bad weather," Mission Control spokesman Valery Lyndin said.

The original landing site near Arkalyk in northern Kazakhstan is swampy, which would make it hard for rescue teams to reach the capsule after touchdown, he said.

The craft will land about 60 miles from Dzhezkazgen in central Kazakhstan instead, which is further south, Lyndin said.

Simonyi, who made the majority of his fortune developing software at U.S. firm Microsoft, is returning after a two-week venture in space.

Commander of the ISS Michael Fincke, and Russian flight engineer Yuri Lonchakov, who spent approximately six months on board, joins him.


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