5:45 PM -- My college campus newspaper had a regular column called "English Majors in Space." I don't remember much about it besides the title, but I thought of that column today when I saw a piece counting down Charles Simonyi's takeoff from a Russian rocket with two Russian cosmonauts scheduled for April 7.
Microsoftie in Space.
Simonyi is a U.S. billionaire who joined Microsoft in its early days back in the '80s, where he helped develop Microsoft Word and Excel, and made tons of money. Enough that he was able to plunk down $25 million for his 11-day trip into space to visit the International Space Station. According to a Reuters report, Simonyi isn't worried about space travel, but rather, the public appearances and press conferences that go along with it. (Huh? Maybe Microsoft's press corps didn't groom their execs as well in the Big '80s. Heck, I remember just walking up to a then press-shy Bill Gates after a presentation he did at a conference in the late '80s and interviewing him on the fly -- no handlers, no entourage or bodyguards, just Bill.)
Anyway, I'm still not sure how the guy who wrote the software that's a major tool in my job (and if it had been available back then, would have made my electric-typewriter English major days a helluva lot more efficient, too) ends up a weekend-warrior astronaut. According to the Reuters report, Simonyi is ready to blast off:
I think it's perfectly safe and with the excellent crew I have been training with, I have no problems about the flight itself," said Simonyi who paid Space Adventures travel agency about $25 million for the 11-day space trip and months of intensive physical, theoretical and Russian-language training.
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Senior Editor, Dark Reading