Former Microsoft programmer is scheduled to return to the International Space Station as a civilian; will conduct scientific and medical experiments.
Charles Simonyi, the programming pioneer who developed Microsoft Word and Excel, is preparing to make his second space trip to the International Space Station later this month.
As the only client of Space Adventures' civilian space program to plan for a repeat space trip, Simonyi will conduct a series of scientific and medical experiments as well as an educational effort to promote space travel.
"I feel my efforts are helping to open the space frontier to private travel," Simonyi said Thursday in a statement. "Just like all industries, it takes commitment and investment from a few key organizations and customers in order to open it to a larger market."
Simonyi is scheduled to board the Soyuz TMA-14 spacecraft March 26 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for a 12-day mission to the ISS. The Expedition 19 crew will include members of the Russian space agency and flight engineer Michael Barratt of NASA. A native of Hungary who immigrated to the U.S. before landing at Microsoft as employee No. 40, Simonyi will carry out research for the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Hungarian Space Office.
His work for the ESA will include experiments studying osteoporosis and low back pain in space flight. For the Hungarian Space Office and the Federal Space Agency of the Russian Federation, Simonyi plans to measure the radiation that space station cosmonauts are exposed to during space flights. He monitored radiation on his first space flight in April 2007.
On his first flight, he enjoyed a gourmet meal prepared by lifestyle doyenne Martha Stewart, who lightheartedly called Simonyi "my boyfriend." Since the first flight, Simonyi, who had been a lifelong bachelor, married Lisa Persdotter of Sweden.
After emigrating to the U.S. from Hungary, Simonyi earned a doctorate in computer science from Stanford University before working at Xerox Corp.'s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). After he moved from PARC to Microsoft, he led the development of Microsoft Word and Excel.