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Fifth Space Tourist Soars Toward Space Station Holiday In Space

The only operating commercial human transport service to space is the Soyuz Taxi operated by Russia at a price of between $20-25 million. The package is all inclusive and is available from US space tourism start up Space Adventures which holds the exclusive licence for the Soyuz taxi service to the International Space Station.
by Antoine Lambroschini
Baikonur, Kazakhstan (AFP) Apr 08, 2007
A Soyuz TMA-10 space capsule bearing billionaire Microsoft pioneer Charles Simonyi soared toward the International Space Station (ISS) on Sunday, making him the world's fifth space tourist.

Kazakhstan's black sky lit up with orange and yellow flames as the rocket took off on schedule late Saturday, carrying Simonyi toward the ISS along with Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Fyodor Yurchikhin.

Observers exploded into cries of joy and applause when officials confirmed the craft had successfully entered orbit a few minutes later.

Simonyi's spokeswoman, Susan Hutchinson, said she was "on the verge of tears."

"The power in the ignition of those engines, the feeling in the ground gave everybody such a sense of what spaceride is, and so we viewed with awe and great satisfaction," she told AFP.

"He had a grin on his face, they were doing really well," she told a friend, then cried out: "Wasn't that a thrill!"

Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, who attended the launch, smiled and clapped.

The flight, which cost Simonyi 25 million dollars (19 million euros) and is scheduled to dock at the ISS on Monday, is far more than a pleasure trip. Between snapping shots of Earth, Simonyi will be conducting medical experiments for the European Space Agency and testing high-definition cameras for the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency.

He plans to detail his experiences on board in a blog at He will also be preparing a gourmet space dinner for his crewmates, likely with some pointers from US homemaking guru Martha Stewart, his partner and one of the 50 well-wishers who came to watch the launch.

The super-rich lovebirds went without a rumoured pre-launch engagement announcement, but Stewart screamed and clapped as Simonyi left the space training centre before take-off, banging her hands on the window of his bus and chanting: "Charles! Charles! Charles!"

The dinner Simonyi will prepare in honor of Russian Cosmonauts' Day on April 12 will have more Stewart-esque flair than the ISS crew is accustomed to.

"One of those dishes has a wine sauce in French style," Simonyi said. "I think that the team will be very happy to eat something different after all that time in space."

Yurchikhin, who will command the 15th mission on the ISS, assured jokingly that "the wine sauce will be eaten as sauce" and that the cosmonauts will respect the ban on alcohol.

Simonyi is scheduled to return to Earth on April 20 together with the current ISS team -- Russia's Mikhail Tyurin and American Miguel Lopez-Alegria -- while the two Russian cosmonauts will stay on for a 190-day shift in orbit.

Simonyi is the fifth tourist to travel to the ISS, following the United States' Dennis Tito (2001) and Greg Olsen (2005), South Africa's Mark Shuttleworth (2002) and an American of Iranian origin, Anousheh Ansari (2006).

Space Adventures, the company that organised the trips, plans to expand its offerings next year to include a 100-million-dollar trip around the moon and a 100,000-dollar budget option: five minutes of sub-orbital space flight.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Martha Stewart Gives Space-Bound Beau A Wild Send-Off
Baikonur, Kazakhstan (AFP) Apr 07, 2007
Billionaire Microsoft pioneer Charles Simonyi got an ecstatic farewell from US homemaking queen Martha Stewart as he prepared to rocket to the stars on Saturday, becoming the world's fifth space tourist.

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