Notes from my Simonyi interview

On Wednesday I had a long telephone interview with Charles Simonyi, scheduled to make a return trip to the International Space Station late next month. (The interview got delayed a couple hours because his training that day ran long.) I plan to have a more complete account of the interview in Monday’s issue of The Space Review, but in the meantime here are some highlights from the interview:

  • Because he’s already flown to space before and gone through the complete training process, his training for this trip is far more condensed, starting just in January. Just this week he started training with the other two members of the Soyuz crew, Gennady Padalka and Michael Barrett.
  • He is planning to do many of the same activities as he did on his 2007 flight, including a space radiation experiment and some medical tests. He also plans to perform a number of contacts with schools through amateur radio links. He said that since this will be his second trip, he believes he’ll be more effective since he’ll be used to the environment and known what to expect while on the station.
  • He said he didn’t suffer from space sickness on his first trip and is thus optimistic he won’t have problems on this flight. He noted that Russians and Americans training for 0-g differently, with Russians relying more on ways to desensitize the vestibular system through things like rotating chairs. He said that may make a difference, but there’s too little data to draw conclusions on what is more effective in general.
  • Unlike a number of other Space Adventures clients, he does not object to being called a “space tourist” or the official space agency term “spaceflight participant”. Tourism, he believes, is an important early market for commercial spaceflight that can enable the development of additional markets down the road.
  • While he believes in the potential of space tourism, he’s not interested in putting his money into any of the ventures in this market: “I’m not an investor, I’m a customer.”
  • Asked if this would be his last flight into space, he said he promised his wife that he would not fly again—at least for a long time. “Maybe in 20 years it will be so common we’ll do it together.”

He also added that the web site developed to track his first flight, Charles in Space, would soon be updated with information about his upcoming mission. And, in fact, it was updated Thursday.

Update: here’s the interview itself, if you missed it.

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