WASHINGTON —American billionaire Charles Simonyi, a computer software executive who paidmore than $20 million to fly to the International Space Station aboard aRussian-built Soyuz capsule in spring 2007, will train for a second Soyuz tripto the space station in spring 2009.
Vienna,Va.-based Space Adventures announced Tuesday that Simonyi will be the firstrepeat customer since the company began organizing space missions for privatecitizens in 2001.
Thecompany's sixth customer, Richard Garriott, son of NASA astronaut OwenGarriott, is scheduledto launch to the space station Oct. 12. He is paying about $30 million underan agreement between Russia?s Federal Space Agency and Space Adventures.
"Havinga repeat orbital client demonstrates to the world that participating in a spacemission is truly a magnificent and awe-inspiring experience," EricAnderson, president and chief executive of Space Adventures, said in a Tuesdaystatement. "It is also an excellent example that the marketplace is evenlarger than previously anticipated because of the potential occurrence ofclients who fly on multiple occasions."
A native ofHungary, Simonyi trained for six months before his13-day mission to the International Space Station in April 2007. The flightset a world record for the longest privately paid human spaceflight. Reachingspace was a lifelong dream, he said at the time, adding that he representedHungary as a Junior Astronaut during a trip to Moscow at age 13.
Simonyidetailed the mission on his Web site, charlesinspace.com. During the mission,he answered hundreds of questions submitted to his Web site, participated in alower back muscle study, mapped the station's radiation environment and testedhigh-definition camera components. He also collected samples of microbes livingaboard the space station for a European Space Agency experiment.
Swimming inthe weightless environment of space was extremely pleasant, though by the endof his spaceflight Simonyi said he was missing Earthly luxuries like showersand beer.
"Youknow, every part had its highlights, and they just kept coming andcoming," Simonyi told SPACE.comafter hisfirst spaceflight.
While Simonyi?spaid between $20 million and $25 million for his first spaceflight, the cost ofsuch trips to the space station has risen to no less than$30 million due to inflation and increasing costs in recent years, SpaceAdventures officials have said.
SPACE.comSenior Editor Tariq Malik contributed to this report from New York City.
- Video - Space Tourist Charles Simonyi in Zero G
- Images: Charles Simonyi in Space!
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Becky Ianotta is a former SpaceNews reporter covering space industry and policy news from 2008 to 2009. Becky earned a bachelor's degree in English/Journalism from the University of Miami. She spent five years as an editor with the Key West Citizen in Florida before joining the SpaceNews team. She later wrote for Air Force Times before taking her current position as communication director for Mother's Against Drunk Driving.