US billionaire becomes first space tourist to visit International Space Station twice

March 27th, 2009 - 12:23 pm ICT by ANI  

London, March 27 (ANI): US billionaire Charles Simonyi has become the first space tourist to make a trip to the International Space Station (ISS) twice.

According to a report by BBC News, Simonyi, aged 60, was part of the three-member crew aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket that blasted off from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur cosmodrome.

The software tycoon, who has paid 35 million dollars (24 million pounds) for his trip, will be the last tourist for the foreseeable future.

During his 13-day mission, he will help with research projects and take part in live broadcasts with schools.

Expedition 19 to the ISS, which also includes Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka and US astronaut Michael Barratt, lifted off on schedule at Baikonur.

Simonyi, along with Padalka and Barratt will form part of a new six-member crew aboard the ISS.

Until now, only three astronauts lived on the station at any one time.

Doubling the number will allow more scientific research to be carried out, but it will also mean there will be less room for visitors.

According to Simonyi, the 35 million dollars he had paid for the flight was his contribution to the exploration of space. (ANI)

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