On the Launching Pad: A $20 Million Childhood Dream

New York Times features Charles Simonyi, who is scheduled to make his dream a reality today.

At 17, Charles Simonyi slipped out of Soviet-controlled Hungary to seek freedom. At 33, he slipped away from the safety of a large corporation, Xerox, in search of fortune at a young start-up named Microsoft.

And today, at 58, that fortune is allowing him to slip the surly bonds of Earth, at least for a couple of weeks, to visit the International Space Station.

Dr. Simonyi is the fifth so-called space tourist — a phrase those who buy the flights dislike — and by a large margin the wealthiest. A software pioneer who led the teams that gave the world Microsoft Word and Excel, he has amassed a personal fortune of about a billion dollars, according to Forbes Magazine.

That kind of wealth has bought him two jets — which he pilots himself — and a 233-foot-yacht, along with other expensive toys. In comparison to an average American family’s worth, the estimated $20 million he paid to blast off in a Soyuz spacecraft is the equivalent to something like a visit to an amusement park or a weekend getaway.


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