Say what? Space tourist would take death by 'orbital debris'

For most of us, a weekend joy ride means setting out on a country road in a sports car with the top down and a radar detector switched on--or, let's be honest, the family sedan with the windows open and "Born to Run" on the CD player.

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But for a man made mind-bogglingly rich by doing some work for Microsoft on a couple little programs named Word and Excel, a getaway trip this weekend meant squeezing into a tiny space capsule in the company of a couple Russian cosmonauts. That man, Charles Simonyi, will spend his spring break hanging out at the International Space Station eating gourmet food prepared at the behest of close friend Martha Stewart.

Simonyi is fulfilling a lifelong interest in space travel, and in a way has come full circle. As a youngster in Hungary in the 1960s, he learned programming on a Russian (or at that time, Soviet) Ural-2 computer.

He isn't much worried about the risks of blasting off, circling the Earth or re-entering the atmosphere. In an account of his trip in The New York Times, Simonyi says this: "If you ask whether I'd like to be in a head-on collision on the freeway or be hit by orbital debris, it's the latter."

For a photo gallery of preparations for the trip, click here: "Photos: Simonyi's ride on a Russian rocket."

Tech Culture
About the author

Jonathan Skillings is managing editor of CNET News, based in the Boston bureau. He's been with CNET since 2000, after a decade in tech journalism at the IDG News Service, PC Week, and an AS/400 magazine. He's also been a soldier and a schoolteacher, and will always be a die-hard fan of jazz, the brassier the better.


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