NASA: Former Microsoft exec lands safely after 14 days in space

Space tourist Charles Simonyi ends second stay aboard the International Space Station

A former Microsoft Corp. executive is back on Earth today after wrapping up his second visit to the International Space Station.

Charles Simonyi, who helped develop both Microsoft Word and Excel, was aboard the Russian Soyuz TMA-13 spacecraft that landed in Kazakhstan at 3:16 a.m. EDT today. Commander Mike Fincke and Flight Engineer Yury Lonchakov piloted the spacecraft back to Earth.

NASA reported today that all three men were in good condition after their re-entry and landing.

Simonyi was launched into space on March 26 aboard the Soyuz TMA-14, which docked with the International Space Station on March 28. This wasn't the first space experience for the Hungarian native. He also flew to the space station in April 2007 with the Expedition 15 crew aboard the Russian Soyuz TMA-10 spacecraft.

According to NASA, Simonyi flew under contract with the Russian Federal Space Agency.

On this return trip, the Expedition 18 crew members undocked their Soyuz spacecraft from the space station at 11:55 p.m. Tuesday. The craft began its de-orbit burn to slow the Soyuz and begin its descent toward the Earth at 2:24 a.m. today.

Simonyi went up with one crew and came back with another that had been manning the station.

When they landed, Fincke and Lonchakov had spent 178 days in space on their Expedition 18 mission, 176 of them on the space station. The crew that blasted off with Simonyi on March 26 -- American astronaut and flight engineer Michael Barratt and Russian cosmonaut and crew commander Gennady Padalka -- are staying on the space station for a six-month stay.

A clock on the Web site tracked Simonyi's time in space. Information about his training, the trip and today's landing is also being updated on Simonyi's Facebook page.

Simonyi joined Microsoft in February 1981. During his 21 years there, he worked as an architect and distinguished engineer in the Microsoft Research organization.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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