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Russian Spaceship Prepares to Blast Off


A cosmonaut, an astronaut and a billionaire are scheduled to travel Thursday to the International Space Station, 350 kilometers above the Earth.

The trio will blast off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

U.S. billionaire Charles Simonyi, who made his fortune developing software for Microsoft, will make the two-day journey with Russian Gennady Padalka and American Michael Barratt.

This is the 60-year-old, Hungarian-born Simonyi's second venture in outer space. He paid $35 million for Thursday's trip, a sharp increase from the $25 million he paid for his first.

While Barratt and Padalka will join the space station's crew, Simonyi will return to Earth on April 7 with departing ISS crew members.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters

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