Paul Allen, future space tourist?

Compared to the good ol’ days (2001), a space tourist flying to the ISS these days is a little, well, ho-hum. Back in 2001 there was all the drama associated with whether NASA would allow Dennis Tito to fly to the station on a Soyuz, and if so, what sort of reception he would get when he got there. Today, while tourist visits to the ISS are far from routine, there’s enough of a precedent that the flight has to be particularly special to capture much attention—and in this case, with Charles Simonyi being the first tourist to make a return trip, it registers only modestly on the media’s radar.

The flight has also gotten some attention because Simonyi might be the “last” space tourist, at least for some time. Space Adventures’ Eric Anderson tells that there’s a slim chance of some flight opportunities in 2010 or 2011, but the company appears to be basing its future plans on a dedicated flight in 2011 or 2012.

Assuming there are future flight opportunities, either next year or in a few years, one person who appears interested—and has more than enough money to pay for the trip—is Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. The AP reports that Allen, who was at Baikonur to watch Thursday’s launch, said he was interested in following Simonyi into orbit at some point. “It’s a few years off,” he told the AP.

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