U.S. Bil­lion­aire Back Af­ter Ride Into Space

Si­monyi Paid $25 Mil­lion for Dream Trip

The Washington Post Sunday - - World News - By Maria Danilova

KOROLYOV, Rus­sia, April 21— A U.S. bil­lion­aire who won a ju­nior cos­mo­naut con­test as a child re­turned Satur­day from a dream voy­age to the in­ter­na­tional space sta­tion, rid­ing a Rus­sian cap­sule to a soft land­ing on the Kazakh steppe.

Charles Si­monyi, 58, a na­tive of Hun­gary who helped de­sign Mi­crosoft Word and Ex­cel, smiled and chat­ted with res­cuers who helped him gin­gerly out of the Soyuz cap­sule. He ap­peared en­er­gized by his $25 mil­lion, two-week trip.

The cap­sule car­ry­ing the space tourist, a Rus­sian cos­mo­naut and a U.S. astro­naut touched down af­ter a more than three-hour re­turn trip from the or­bital sta­tion.

Asked about his first im­pres­sions back on Earth, Si­monyi said in Rus­sian, “The sun is shin­ing, the weather is good,” in footage broad­cast on state television.

Cos­mo­naut Mikhail Tyurin told the net­work, “The first thing I felt on Earth was the smell.”

Span­ish-born U.S. astro­naut Michael Lopez-Ale­gria, the last out of the cap­sule, smiled and talked to the sup­port crew as doc­tors mon­i­tored the men’s vi­tal signs.

The astro­naut set one U.S. record for con­tin­u­ous space flight by spend­ing 215 days in or­bit and an­other for tak­ing 10 space­walks over his ca­reer.

Si­monyi ar­rived at the sta­tion on April 9 — also cour­tesy of a Soyuz, which flew into space atop a Rus­sian rocket from the Rus­sian-leased launch fa­cil­ity in Baikonur, Kaza­khstan — along with two other cos­mo­nauts, who will re­main on the sta­tion for about six months.

Also stay­ing in or­bit was Sunita Wil­liams, an Amer­i­can astro­naut who ar­rived in De­cem­ber.

Si­monyi’s friend Martha Ste­wart watched his launch from Baikonur and was at Rus­sian Mis­sion Con­trol out­side Moscow when the Soyuz docked.

Si­monyi fol­lowed in the foot­steps of Den­nis Tito, Mark Shut­tle­worth, Gre­gory Olsen and Anousheh An­sari — all of whom have also trav­eled to the in­ter­na­tional space sta­tion aboard Rus­sian rock­ets in trips bro­kered by U.S.-based Space Ad­ven­tures Ltd.

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