NASA: Former Microsoft exec lands after 14 days in space

By , Computerworld |  Science, NASA, space

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

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

NASA reported Wednesday 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 a first-time 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 is flying 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. Wednesday.

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 Gennady Padalka, commander of the crew -- are staying onboard the space station for a six-month stay.

A clock on the CharlesInSpace.com Web site tracked Simonyi's time in space. Information about his training, the trip and Wednesday'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.

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