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Fifth Space Tourist To Carry Communist-Era Keepsake Into Space

"I'm taking a computer tape for a Russian Ural II computer that I was programming in 1964," Simonyi said at a press conference at Star City, the training centre for cosmonauts in a forest east of Moscow.
by Staff Writers
Moscow (AFP) March 22, 2007
American software billionaire Charles Simonyi will be packing a piece of Communist-era computer gadgetry for his launch into space on a Russian rocket next month, he said during training Thursday.

Simonyi, one of the brains behind Microsoft's rise, will become the world's fifth space tourist when he joins the mission to the International Space Station (ISS) on April 7.

He has paid about 25 million dollars (18.7 million euros) for the trip, organiser Eric Anderson of Space Adventures said earlier.

Simonyi, 58, said he had become fascinated by computers while growing up in then Communist-ruled Hungary.

"I'm taking a computer tape for a Russian Ural II computer that I was programming in 1964," he said at a press conference at Star City, the training centre for cosmonauts in a forest east of Moscow.

He wrote the program on the tape when he was only 16 and an intern at Hungary's bureau of national statistics, he explained.

"I still keep the paper tape in my safe and am taking one with me to remind me of where it all began," Simonyi told AFP later.

Leaving Hungary at 17, Simonyi was to become the main designer of the Word and Excel programs, before leaving Microsoft in 2002 to found his own company, Intentional Software.

He will work on a series of experiments in space, including taking samples of biological contamination on the ISS.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Cosmonauts To Carry Out Spacewalks With Tourists If Trained
Moscow, Russia (RIA Novosti) Mar 23, 2007
Russian astronauts preparing for next month's trip to the International Space Station said they would be happy to carry out spacewalks with tourists who were properly trained.

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