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Ex-Microsoft developer plans trip to space - report

Written by: Staff

MOSCOW, Apr 4 (Reuters) A former software developer at US giant Microsoft could make a trip to the International Space Station next year aboard a Russian rocket, the RIA news agency reported.

Hungarian-born Charles Simonyi, who was one of the key developers behind applications such as Microsoft Word, would become the world's fifth ''space tourist''.

''A preliminary contract with Simonyi has been concluded for spring 2007,'' Alexei Krasnov, head of manned spaceflight programmes at Russian space agency Roskosmos, told RIA.

Simonyi now runs Intentional Software, which he co-founded in 2002. He is also an experienced pilot.

Japanese entrepreneur Daisuke Enomoto is in training and is expected to fly later this year.

At the moment space tourists take off with a two-man Russian-US crew in a Soyuz rocket, spend just over a week at the space station and return to earth with the outgoing crew. The trip comes with a reported price tag of 20 million dollars.

Russia can also sell spare seats on its spacecraft to governments. Brazil's first astronaut Marcos Pontes arrived at the station on Saturday.

Reuters DKS BD0914

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