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Former top Microsoft developer Charles Simonyi is planning a trip to the International Space Station aboard a Russian rocket, according to the RIA news agency. It would make him the world's fifth space tourist.

A Russian space program spokesman said: "A preliminary contract with Simonyi has been concluded for spring 2007."

Hungarian-born Simonyi has done very nicely, thank you, out of his work at Microsoft overseeing their applications development, and latterly founded business specialist Intentional Software.

He has become something of a philanthropist, funding Richard Dawkins' contoversial Public Understanding of Science Chair at Oxford University. It's reported Charlie's space adventures will set him back a cool $20m.®

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