John Paczkowski

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Intentional Software Founder and Space Tourist Charles Simonyi

Charles Simonyi

As if managing the development of Microsoft Word and Excel in the 1980s wasn’t a good enough item for his resume, Charles Simonyi has just made a trip to, uh, outer space. Yes, he is one of the first space tourists, having spent 11 days on board the International Space Station just last month. He will tell us all about it.

  • 1:25 p.m. PDT: Session begins with some great video footage of Simonyi’s trip. He enters to David Bowie’s “A Space Oddity.”
  • 1:30 p.m. Walt: Space is vast, yet the space station you were in was so claustrophobic–isn’t that ironic?Simonyi doesn’t seem to see the irony, saying that the space station was “quite spacious.”
  • Down to brass tacks: What did it cost? Simonyi says estimates have put the cost at upwards of $20 million.
  • Kara: Do you foresee widespread space tourism? Will we have a D in space?Simonyi seems to think so. Obviously, cost is a big issue.
  • 1:35 p.m.: Walt: Is the space station worth investing in with so many other demands on our federal budget?Simonyi: I believe it is. Once you take the premise that we should be in space, then it becomes a question of: Is the space station the best way to be there?
  • So what was it like?Incredibly fantastic, Simonyi says. Beyond all imagination. Like seeing a movie you’ve seen before, but now you’re seeing it in wide-screen with all the special effects.

    Most memorable moment: seeing the space station appear after a two-day journey.

  • What’s weightlessness like?It’s enjoyable. … Long-term weightlessness, however, is very demanding. Requires certain behaviors to manage it that can be a bit grueling.
  • What did you eat in space?Canned meals – food with a consistency that will allow it to stick to your spoon.
  • 1:40 p.m.: How did he feel upon returning to Earth?Simonyi: Everything feels unusually heavy. When you move your head, you have some unusual sensations. It’s best not to move your head at all.
  • 1:45 p.m.: Is there any application of intentional software in a world beyond IT departments, the small-business world?Simonyi: In the long term, absolutely. That’s the plan. For instance, Simonyi’s company works on pension systems, using complex software, the so-called intentional software, because it captures intentions (i.e., the needs and goals of any given client).

Charles Simonyi Session Photos

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Charles Simonyi in space


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