BUSINESS NEWS Gates ‘is mulling space flight’Wed, 11 Apr 2007
The world’s richest man Bill Gates is considering a possible flight into space, a Russian cosmonaut said from International Space Station on Wednesday, citing Gate’s colleague, current space tourist Charles Simonyi.
“Charles said that Bill Gates is also preparing to visit space,” cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin told journalists during a video link-up from the space station, broadcast on state television Rossiya.
“So the next time someone will be with Bill Gates. For me this is the biggest surprise of our flight.”
Space Adventures, the US-based company that organises the trips, said it had heard nothing from Gates about a possible flight.
Fifth space tourist
“Space Adventures has had no contact with Bill Gates,” spokesperson Natalya Dedovets told AFP.
Simonyi, Yurchikhin and fellow cosmonaut Oleg Kotov docked at the International Space Station on Monday, after a flight that cost the former Microsoft engineer $25-million.
Simonyi is scheduled to return to Earth on 20 April together with the current ISS team — Russia’s Mikhail Tyurin and American Miguel Lopez-Alegria — while the two Russian cosmonauts will stay on for a 190-day shift in orbit.
Simonyi, who made his fortune at Microsoft, is the fifth tourist to travel to the ISS, following the United States’ Dennis Tito in 2001 and Greg Olsen in 2005, South Africa’s Mark Shuttleworth in 2002, and a US citizen of Iranian origin, Anousheh Ansari in 2006.
Space Adventures plans to expand its offerings next year to include a $100-million trip around the moon and a $100 000 budget option: five minutes of sub-orbital space flight.