U.S Space tourist Charles Simonyi waves shortly after landing of Russian Souyz TMA-9 space capsule about 500 km (310 miles) south-west of the Kazakh town of Karaganda, April 21, 2007.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
MOSCOW, April 21 (Xinhua) -- A Russian Soyuz capsule carrying two astronauts and the the world's fifth civilian space traveler landed successfully at a planned site in Kazakhstan on Saturday after 13 days in orbit.
The crew aboard the capsule appreciated the mission control center staff for their work and were congratulated after touching down at 4:31 p.m. Moscow time (1231 GMT) as scheduled.
The capsule carried back to Earth the 14th International Space Station (ISS) crew, Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin and NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, who had worked there for 215 days, and U.S. software tycoon Charles Simonyi, who paid 25 million U.S. dollars for the space travel.
Russian supporting teams opened the hatch and helped the passengers out of the landing module, placing them on chairs to help them adapt to the gravity.
They all looked good, smiling and joking with the search team staff, according to live TV broadcast from the Kazakh steppes some135 kilometers north of the city of Dzhezkazgan.
The Soyuz spaceship blasted off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on April 7. Russian cosmonauts Fyodor Yurchikhin and Oleg Kotov on board will stay in the station as the 15th crew for the next six month.
The capsule unlocked from the ISS and started its trip back home early Saturday.
Born in Budapest in 1948, Simonyi left his native country Hungary at the age of 17. He moved to the U.S. in 1968 and later became the key software developer behind Microsoft Word and Excel.
He is now co-founder and CEO of Intentional Software Corp., based in Bellevue, Washington. In 2002, Forbes magazine ranked him the 445th richest person in the world with an estimated wealth of 824 million euros (989 million dollars).
The Russian spacecraft will be working to deliver cargo and ISS crew members till 2011, according to a contract inked by Russia and the U.S. earlier this month.
NASA has been forced to pay for places aboard the Soyuz space crafts and Russian ferries after the Columbia disaster in 2003 and subsequent suspension of its own shuttle flights.
The Russian Souyz TMA-9 space capsule returns to earth in a steppe about 500 km (311 miles) southwest of Karaganda, April 21, 2007. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo) Photo Gallery >>>