Because of carpooling, Russia ends its space tourist program


Sorry, vacationers. Although hearts will break, Russia is closing the hatch on more space tourists. Even though the program was a success--it netted upward of $20 million each time a gazillionaire decided he wanted the bragging rights of tagging along on a space mission--the Russians need the extra seats. So another legendary example of stratospheric excess is being grounded in favor of smarter economizing.

Russia Cuts Space Tourism

After this year, the size of the International Space Station's crew will double to include astronauts from Canada, Europe, and Japan, which pitched in to create the orbiting research effort. At the same time, the U.S. Space Shuttle program will end, and NASA will have to carpool (or, more accurately, rocketpool) with the Russians until 2015 when the new American space program is expected to launch.

When he takes off in March, software designer Charles Simonyi, who oversaw Microsoft Office for years, will be the last of six space tourists booked since 2001. Yes, the guy responsible for the obnoxious talking paper clip that cluttered our screens for years will now shoot the proceeds into orbit. Again. He went up two years ago, too. Because for some middle-aged men, a little red sports car just won't do.

Originally published