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Fifth space tourist docks with the ISS

Word nerd in space

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The latest space tourist has reached the International Space Station. Billionaire Charles Simonyi docked with the ISS yesterday evening (GMT) after lifting off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 17:31 GMT on Saturday.

Hungarian-born Simonyi made his fortune at Microsoft, where he was the lead developer on Word and Excel. When he announced his plans to travel to the ISS last year, he said: "I might be the first nerd in space".

We're not sure he can claim that title, given the scientific background of many astronauts, but Simonyi is certainly the fifth non-astronaut to visit the ISS courtesy of the Russian space tourism programme. Previous visitors include Iranian-born businesswoman Anousheh Ansari and Californian financier and ex-space scientist Denis Tito.

Flights to the ISS cost around $25m bringing much-needed funding to the Russian space agency. Initially NASA objected to the practice, saying the presence of tourists on board the ISS would make life harder for both the professional astronauts and the mission controllers back on Earth.

Simonyi took with him a meal of roast quail and duck breast to be eaten on Thursday, Russian Cosmonaut Day. The BBC reports that the meal was selected for him by Martha Stewart. ®

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