Microsoft billionaire heads for space

Charles Simonyi is heading for the International Space Station but may have some work to do while he's there.

Charles Simonyi, the billionaire who developed Microsoft's Word and Excel software, has booked a holiday on the International Space Station (ISS).

Simonyi has spent an estimated $25 million on the flight but is worth over a billion dollars according to Forbes. He will go into orbit on 09 March 2007 and will spend eight days on board, enough for 160 trips around the planet.

"I am fascinated by the technologies utilized by the American and Russian space programs," said Dr. Simonyi.

"As an engineer, I look forward to studying the different engineering approaches."

But Simonyi may have more work than he bargained on in space, as the station has been having problems with its Microsoft software.

"Attempts yesterday to set up an Outlook email account for Soyuz taxi crewmember Anousheh Ansari were not successful," reported the station in September.

"This is a repeat of a problem seen with previous email accounts for Soyuz taxi crewmembers. Plans are in work to give the SFP (Space Flight Participant) a regular ISS email account."

Born in Budapest, Simonyi was part of the original team at Xerox PARC, which was responsible for the invention of the mouse, Ethernet, the GUI and laser printing. In 1981 he joined Microsoft and stayed until 2002, when he set up Intentional Software Corporation, a software engineering firm focused on improving the way organizations write software.While at Microsoft he oversaw the development of Word and Excel, tow of the company's most popular applications. He also played a key role in developing object orientated programming.

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