US software guru Charles Simonyi today created history by becoming the first man to travel to space twice as a tourist with a Russian Soyuz-FG rocket lifting off carrying him and two other astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).
In a textbook launch, the rocket blasted off at 11:49 GMT (1719 IST) from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakh steppes.
Hungarian-born Simonyi, who has been associated with Xerox and Microsoft, has paid USD 35 million for his second trip on the Soyuz. The spacecraft will travel for nearly two days before docking at the station, orbiting some 350 kms above the earth.
"The Soyuz TMA-14 spacecraft separated from the carrier rocket at the designated time. The crew's condition is good," a Mission Control official was quoted as saying by ITAR-TASS.
The Soyuz with the 19th ISS Expedition crew, which includes Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka and NASA astronaut Michael Barratt, is scheduled to dock with the orbital station on March 28 to join Japan's Koichi Wakata, US astronaut Michael Fincke and Russian Flight Engineer Yuri Lonchakov.
Simonyi's current journey has cost him some USD 10 million more than the $25 million he paid for his April 2007 visit.