Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates is planning to travel into space, his friend and current space tourist CHARLES SIMONYI has revealed. The announcement was made by cosmonaut FYODOR YURCHIKHIN during a talk to journalists from the International Space Station, where software tycoon Simonyi is spending the next nine days. Simonyi paid $25 million (GBP13 million) for his experience and claims Gates - the world's richest man - is preparing for his own space mission. Yurchikhin says, "Charles said that Bill Gates is also preparing to visit space. So the next time someone will be with Bill Gates. For me this is the biggest surprise of our flight." Space Adventures, which has organised all space tourist trips to date, claims not to have had any contact from Gates - but Russian space agency Roskosmos has confirmed the tycoon recently visited its cosmonaut training centre near Moscow. Spokesman IGOR PANARIN says, "For now there are no negotiations on taking part in a tourist flight. We have not had any official request from Mr. Gates. But if Mr. Gates expressed interest we would help him."