Space Adventures formally announced yesterday that former Microsoft executive Charles Simonyi will be the next space tourist, er, commercial spaceflight participant (or whatever) to visit the ISS, in spring 2007. The announcement was made at a press conference in Seattle, and comes a week after Russia media reports announced he would fly on the Soyuz TMA-10 taxi flight to the ISS.
Simonyi, like previous commercial travellers, is playing up the research and educational angles of his trip, noting that he is in talks to participate in experiments on the health effects of spaceflight. (As MSNBC reports, though, he’s not necessarily as testy about being called a “space tourist”.) “I might be the first nerd in space,” he claims, something that many of his professional and commercial predecessors might dispute.
The Space Adventures press release claims that Simonyi’s flight will lift off on March 9, 2007. However, previous Russian reports indicates that the next Soyuz flight would be delayed until April to avoid landing back in Kazakhstan during the early spring flooding season. According to SPACE.com, discussions about changing the launch date “are still ongoing and far from final.”
Simonyi, not surprisingly, has his own web site devoted to the flight, including imagery and a blog. (The question is, will he “blog” from space?). On the site, he says that his goals for his flight are to “advance civilian space flight, assist research for the International Space Station, and involve young people in the science of space travel.”