It was announced Wednesday that technology entrepreneur, Gregory Olsen, has been confirmed to the Soyuz TMA-7 crew, which is scheduled for an October 1 launch. Olsen would become the third space tourist to go to the International Space Station (ISS) and the first since the Columbia Space Shuttle tragedy.
As was the case with the two previous space tourists, Dennis Tito and Mark Shuttleworth, Space Adventures--a space tourism firm based in Arlington, Va.--brokered Olsen's $20-million-dollar space flight.
"The last and final nail is in the door, so he's going," said Eric Anderson, president and CEO of Space Adventures. "They're making a customized seat for him in the Soyuz, and he has his own space suit."
Olsen's candidacy was announced last year, and he had begun cosmonaut training in April 2004. But Russian space officials later said he could not fly due to a health condition. The undisclosed medical problem has since been remedied, allowing Olsen to receive clearance to resume training on May 14, 2005.
"I have been committed to this orbital mission ever since Space Adventures announced my candidacy last year," Olsen said. "Since then, I have completed over 500 hours of cosmonaut training at Star City and am excited to finish my preparations."
Olsen, who is the founder and head of Sensors Unlimited, Inc., in Princeton, N.J., will join NASA astronaut William McArthur and cosmonaut Valery Tokarev on the 12th Expedition Crew aboard the ISS. During his eight days on the station, Olsen plans to run experiments on remote sensing and infrared astronomy.
"We are pleased to confirm Dr. Olsen as a member of the next Soyuz crew," said Anatoly Perminov, chief of the Federal Space Agency of the Russian Federation. "His determination and dedication to this mission should be seen as highly commendable and respected by the entire space community."
Anderson told Space.com that a candidate for the fourth space tourist had already been lined up and may be announced in the next few months. "That person should fly next year," Anderson said.
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