Si­monyi in Space Is a Good Thing

U.S. Bil­lion­aire and Friend of Martha Ste­wart Takes Flight

The Washington Post Sunday - - The Reliable Source -

BAIKONUR, Kaza­khstan, April 7 — A Rus­sian rocket car­ry­ing the Amer­i­can bil­lion­aire who helped de­velop Mi­crosoft Word roared into the night skies over Kaza­khstan Satur­day, send­ing Charles Si­monyi and two cos­mo­nauts soar­ing into or­bit on a jour­ney to the in­ter­na­tional space sta­tion.

Climb­ing on a col­umn of smoke and fire into the clouds over the bleak steppes, the Soyuz TMA- 10 cap­sule lifted off at 11: 31 p. m. lo­cal time, cast­ing an orange glow over the Baikonur cos­mod­rome and dozens of of­fi­cials and well­wish­ers watch­ing from about a mile away.

The cap­sule turned north­east and moved down­range be­fore en­ter­ing or­bit about 10 min­utes later. It was sched­uled to ren­dezvous with the sta­tion Mon­day.

Among those bid­ding farewell was Si­monyi’s friend Martha Ste­wart, who watched the launch from a lo­ca­tion sep­a­rate from other spectators.

Ste­wart’s pres­ence here in­spired wide spec­u­la­tion that she and Si­monyi — friends for about a decade — were plan­ning to an­nounce their en­gage­ment.

Af­ter see­ing Si­monyi off for fi­nal prepa­ra­tions, Ste­wart spent the fi­nal hours be­fore the launch aboard an­other mode of trans­porta­tion com­mon to this part of Kaza­khstan’s steppes — a camel.

“ The ride was ex­cel­lent,” she said.

Inside the cap­sule, Si­monyi and cos­mo­nauts Fy­o­dor Yurchikhin and Oleg Ko­tov grinned for the on­board cam­era, gave the thumb­sup sign and bat­ted at a toy black cat hang­ing from rope — a to­ken of good luck cho­sen by Ko­tov and named af­ter his two chil­dren.

Si­monyi, a 58- year- old na­tive of Hun­gary, paid $ 25 mil­lion for the 13- day trip, the fifth such pay­ing “ space tourist,” or “ space flight par­tic­i­pant,” as of­fi­cials pre­fer to call them.

In a post­ing on the blog he in­tends to main­tain while in or­bit, Si­monyi said he spent his fi­nal day get­ting a hair­cut and a ther­a­peu­tic mas­sage and watched a tra­di­tion- al show­ing of a clas­sic Soviet- era war film.

There was no men­tion of Ste­wart on the blog.

Three days af­ter ar­riv­ing at the sta­tion and greet­ing its cur­rent oc­cu­pants — Rus­sian cos­mo­naut Mikhail Tyurin and Amer­i­can as­tro­nauts Miguel Lopez- Ale­gria and Sunita Wil­liams — Si­monyi will treat the crews to a gourmet meal, cho­sen by Ste­wart, in honor of Cos­mo­nauts’ Day, the Rus­sian day com­mem­o­rat­ing Yuri Ga­garin’s his­toric 1961 flight into space.

The menu in­cludes quail roasted in Madi­ran wine, duck breast con­fit with ca­pers, shred­ded chicken par­men­tier, ap­ple fon­dant pieces, rice pud­ding with can­died fruit, and semolina cake with dried apri­cots.

Si­monyi had said he would bring with him the pa­per com­puter tapes that he used decades ago when he first learned pro­gram­ming on a bulky Soviet ma­chine called Ural- 2. He em­i­grated to the United States in 1968 and even­tu­ally worked at Mi­crosoft Corp., help­ing to de­velop Word and Mi­crosoft Ex­cel be­fore found­ing his own soft­ware com­pany.

While at the space sta­tion, Si­monyi will be con­duct­ing a num­ber of ex­per­i­ments, in­clud­ing mea­sur­ing ra­di­a­tion lev­els and study­ing bi­o­log­i­cal or­gan­isms inside the lab.

He is to re­turn to Earth on April 20 along with Tyurin and LopezAle­gria.


Charles Si­monyi and Martha Ste­wart, with a glass wall be­tween them, dur­ing a farewell cer­e­mony.

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