7 October 2008
Announcements - Tourism (Good)
Simonyi Discusses Return Trip to ISS
Space is not a one-time adventure
by G B Leatherwood
In sports, coming in second is almost as bad as finishing last. First place wins the gold medal, the blue ribbon, the biggest trophy, and the bottle of champagne. Second place doesn’t.

But sometimes, being second is being first. Such is the case of Dr. Charles Simonyi, who is the first paying customer of Space Adventures to make a second trip to the International Space Station ( ISS) with the Soyuz TMA-14 crew in early 2009.

In a media teleconference held October 7, 2008, both Dr. Simonyi and Eric Anderson, founder and CEO of Space Adventures, talked about his upcoming return to space.

Simonyi said many people return to a vacation spot because they want to experience some of the things they didn’t get to see or do the first time. He believes the same is true for space.

Simonyi said his first four or five days of the ten-day stay at the ISS were taken up with “on-the-job training,” learning how to function in weightlessness, learning his way around the station, getting set up for broadcasts, and other tasks. For his second trip, he plans to spend more time on his own projects, which include his very popular ham radio conversations with amateur radio operators around the world and fielding questions from students of all grade levels. Although not a scientist himself, he will participate in studies about weightlessness on the human body. What he won't be doing: a spacewalk, which takes time to train for.

Although every spaceflight participant spends up to eight months training for the journey, the Hungarian Microsoft applications developer has already done so for his first journey. However, he will have to spend several months to retrain for his second flight. Simonyi does not know what the training will consist of, but he will likely not have to repeat some parts of it, specifically the survival training.

However, he is sure that training will be required to learn whatever new systems and procedures have been adopted since his previous flight. He has also been working to establish new minimum requirements so that more people can go to space.

And where will space tourism be in fifty years? Both Anderson and Simonyi said, “Anything can happen in fifty years.” Simonyi related that fifty years ago computers were huge machines used mainly by university and government research programs, but today computers are ubiquitous. “Remember the days when laser printers were big and very, very expensive?” he asked. “Now nearly anyone can have one for a modest price.”

Anderson talked about the value of space travel. “It’s kind of a chicken and egg thing. When investors see the market potential and provide funding for more and better vehicles and ways to experience sub-orbital and orbital flight the price will come down and more people will be able to go. More people going will mean greater opportunities for profitable operations.”

To see the results of Dr. Simonyi’s first trip and keep up with his progress in preparing for and taking the second, go to www.charlesinspace.com.
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G B Leatherwood 7 October 2008
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