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Space Tourist Simonyi To Launch Thursday On Soyuz For Record-Setting Second Space Tourist Flight To Station

By | March 23, 2009

      Charles Simonyi will launch Thursday on a Soyuz space vehicle, becoming the first space tourist to visit the International Space Station twice.

      He is the seventh tourist whose voyage was arranged by Space Adventures, Ltd., the space travel company.

      Simonyi will launch to the station aboard the Soyuz TMA-14 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. He will travel with the Expedition 19 crew, which includes Commander Gennady Padalka of the Russian space agency and Flight Engineer Michael Barratt of NASA, for a 12-day mission.

      Simonyi will communicate with hundreds of students via HAM radio signal in cooperation with Amateur Radio on the space station (ARISS). He aims to motivate and inspire students, delivering the message that all it takes to reach one’s dreams is study and determination.

      He also will do research for the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Hungarian Space Office. Part of his mission objectives are to advance understanding of the health effects of spaceflight.

      In cooperation with ESA, Simonyi will perform a series of experiments developed by investigators, including the study of the physical impact of spaceflight on cosmonauts and astronauts through early detection of osteoporosis in space, and a study of the occurrence and development of low back pain during spaceflight.

      Because space travellers experience little gravity while in orbit, their bones tend to lose mass.

      Simonyi also will work closely with the Hungarian Space Office and the Federal Space Agency of the Russian Federation as he plans to measure and monitor radiation on the space station using a dosimeter, called PILLE-MKS.

      Astronauts and cosmonauts living and working on the space station are exposed to galactic and solar cosmic radiation, which may have potential long-term health effects.

      He participated in this experiment on his first mission and looks forward to continuing to assist in generating a map of the radiation environment on the space station. Results of the project will be helpful in designing better spacecraft shielding for future space station crews.

      As an independent project, Simonyi will use Windows on Earth software, developed by TERC, to assist him in photographing Earth.

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