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Former Microsoft Exec Returns From Space

Charles Simonyi, a former Microsoft executive who oversaw creation of the company's ubiquitous Microsoft Word software and other Office products, on Wednesday returned to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan aboard a Russian made Soyuz-TMA spacecraft following a two-week stint aboard the International Space Station.

Simonyi returned with astronauts Michael Fincke and Yuri Lonchokov, both of whom had spent six months at the station.

The trip was the second into space for Simonyi, a software industry billionaire. As such, it's a record for a private citizen.

"With my second mission, I did much more work, but I was also able to rest and relax," Simonyi said in a statement. "I was physically more prepared and more comfortable given the resources I brought with me. I am very happy to have made the decision to fly again."

Simonyi arranged his trip through Space Adventures, a private firm that offers trips into the cosmos for the wealthy. Since beginning operations eight years ago, the company has launched six individuals into space, including Simonyi.

In 2011, Space Adventures plans to launch the first private mission to the International Space Station in partnership with the Russian Federation's Federal Space Agency. The mission will mark the first time that a Soyuz spacecraft will be given over entirely to private citizens.

Simonyi's interest in space travel is nothing new. The Hungarian native represented his country as a junior cosmonaut and won a trip to Moscow to meet Pavel Popovich, one of the Soviet Union's first space explorers.

Simonyi worked at Xerox's famed Palo Alto research facility from 1972 to 1980, before leaving to join Microsoft. He now runs his own company, Intentional Software.