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Russia Confirms Start Of Countdown For Fifth Space Tourist

Hungarian-born US billionaire Charles Simonyi in his youth.
by Staff Writers
Moscow (AFP) Feb 20, 2007
The world's next space tourist, Hungarian-born US billionaire Charles Simonyi, will blast off on his journey to the International Space Station on April 7, Russia's space agency said Tuesday. Simonyi will become only the fifth space tourist in the world when he makes the trip the research facility aboard the Russian vessel Soyuz TMA-10.

"Preparations for the launch have begun at the Baikonur space centre," the Roskosmos agency said in a statement Tuesday, confirming lift-off was planned for April 7.

The Soyuz TMA-10 ship is in Baikonur, in the Kazakhstan province, where systems checks are underway, the statement said.

Simonyi, a 58-year-old software developer who has been in training for his foray into space at Star City in Moscow since November, will be accompanied by two Russian cosmonauts, Fedor Yurchikhin and Oleg Kotov.

Simonyi left Hungary for the United States at the age of 17, making his fortune working for Microsoft in the 1980s.

He will become the fifth space tourist after American Dennis Tito, South African Mark Shuttleworth, American Gregory Olsen and, most recently, Iranian-American Anousheh Ansari.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Next Space Tourist Dreams Of Library In Orbit
Moscow (AFP) Feb 18, 2007
The world's next space tourist, Hungarian-born American software developer and billionaire Charles Simonyi, said Sunday he would like to see a library in outer space. "Everywhere where humans are I think there should be a library," 58-year-old Simonyi, who is scheduled to become the world's fifth space tourist in April, told AFP in an interview in Moscow.

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