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10 Apr, 2009 22:45

Love ends career of astronaut tourist

Two astronauts and a space tourist have been commenting on their experience in orbit after returning from the International Space Station.

Not too many people get to go to space twice and only Charles Simoni got to do it both times as a tourist.

The software tycoon spent over $50 million for his two trips to the International Space Station.

But now it looks like it was the last time he could look down at our entire planet from the height of the orbiting ISS – and all because of a woman!

Charles Simoni is reported to have signed a contract promising his wife, 28-year-old model Lisa Persdotter, that he would never go into space again.

“I have not spent much time with my wife, unfortunately. We have many, many plans together and I'll always be interested in space, as I have been, but not as actively as going on a flight,” confessed space tourist Simonyi during a media briefing at Star City in the Moscow region.

Lisa Persdotter is a Swedish model and daughter of a billionaire. The couple married last November, with Bill Gates among the guests, and it turned out to be one of Sweden's most glamorous parties.

U.S. astronaut Michael Fincke was not as lucky as Mr. Simony, as his wife waited for him at Chkalovsky airport near Star City in the Moscow Region.

She may not be as popular with the media as Lisa Persdotter, but at least she and her husband share their love of space, naming her children after the Moon, Star and the Sun.

Tatyana Lanchokova, the wife of Russian cosmonaut Yury Lanchokov, seemed to be the most calm of all three space wives, but she could not hide her excitement minutes before seeing her husband.

And there was good reason for this impatience, because Michael Fink and Yury Lanchokov had a busy mission during their 177 days in orbit.

They successfully carried out more than 40 experiments, were visited by 2 space shuttles and 2 progress spaceships and completed 2 space walks.

The two spacemen accomplished all their tasks, including the main one: preparing the ISS to comfortably house a 6-person crew for an extended stay.

Also, rumors that a toilet on board the ISS caused a crack in their relations were denied.

“The Americans have never said that the Russians could not use our toilet – that's unfounded. And the Americans, of course, could use the Russian toilet so that is not the problem. We work together as a crew and we got our job done together as a crew,” said U.S. astronaut Michael Fincke.

As a result of their work, the ISS is now the largest space station ever built and Michael Fink says it's the result of what he calls the greatest partnership humanity has ever seen.