Space tourist returns to Earth after 14 day trip

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Charles Simonyi

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Charles Simonyi, a billionaire software engineer born in Hungary, has returned to Earth after a 25 million dollar trip to the International Space Station with mission Soyuz TMA-10. The original mission, planned to last 13 days, was extended to 14 days when landing was made impossible due to "boggy ground". Mr. Simonyi, Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin, and American astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria made a successful landing in the Soyuz TMA-9 spacecraft on the Kazakh steppe in Central Asia on Saturday.

Mr. Simonyi was said to be "ecstatic" after rescuers helped him from the capsule and into a fur-lined chair. His first piece of food back on Earth was an offering to returning space crews landing in Kazakstan - a green apple. The controllers supervising the landing burst into applause along with the families of the space crew as a giant screen displayed "It has landed!" in large red letters.

Simonyi commented "I feel terrific, it was a fantastic trip, it is good to be back," before relaxing in a special reclining chair. The two other returning men were said to be very tired after their 7-month visit to the ISS. "It is natural that those who spend a quite long period of time [in space] find it harder now," said Anatoly Grigoryev, head of a Russian biomedical institute responsible for the health of the cosmonauts.

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