In a surprise announcement that caught reporters completely off-guard, NASA and Apple have issued a curt joint announcement revealing that a bat clinging to the hull was not the only stowaway on board the STS-119 Discovery space shuttle mission, which successfully returned to Earth on 28-Mar-09. With the mission complete, it has been revealed that Apple CEO Steve Jobs was secretly a passenger. The news is particularly surprising in light of the fact that Jobs is completely absent from crew photographs, including the video conference with President Obama.
Wealthy celebrities traveling to space is nothing new, but the reason for the secrecy of Jobs's presence on this spaceflight, and his purpose for partaking of it during a time when he is supposedly recovering from health problems, remain mysteries. Perhaps he just wanted the thrill of being in space, for which, it should be added, he can well afford to pay.
However, it has also been noted that Charles Simonyi, former Microsoft Application Software Group head, was a passenger on the Soyuz TMA-14 Expedition 19, which lifted off 26-Mar-09 and is scheduled to stay until 07-Apr-09 at the International Space Station. Since the STS-119 was visiting the International Space Station to deliver improved solar arrays, this means that Jobs and Simonyi could have held a secret meeting... in space. Speculation is rife! Might this indicate a pending Microsoft-Apple detente? Even more alarming, might this be part of an elaborate hush-hush plan for Simonyi to take over at Apple should Jobs step down? Speculation remains just that, however, since all parties involved have declined to comment further.