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Greg Olsen Back on Track to Be Third Space Tourist

It was announced Wednesday that technology entrepreneur,Gregory Olsen, has been confirmed to the Soyuz TMA-7 crew, which is scheduledfor an October 1 launch. Olsen wouldbecome 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 spacetourism 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 inthe Soyuz, and he has his own space suit."

Olsen's candidacy was announcedlast year, and he had begun cosmonaut training in April 2004. But Russian space officials later said he couldnot fly due to a health condition. The undisclosed medical problem has since been remedied, allowing Olsento receive clearance to resume training on May 14, 2005.

"I have been committed to this orbital mission eversince Space Adventures announced my candidacy last year," Olsen said. "Since then, I have completed over 500 hoursof 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., willjoin NASA astronaut William McArthurand cosmonaut Valery Tokarevon the 12th Expedition Crew aboard the ISS. During his eight days on the station, Olsenplans to run experiments on remote sensing and infrared astronomy.

"We are pleased to confirm Dr. Olsen as a member of thenext Soyuz crew," said Anatoly Perminov,chief of the Federal Space Agency of the Russian Federation. "His determination and dedication to thismission should be seen as highly commendable and respected by the entire spacecommunity."

Anderson told Space.com that a candidate for thefourth space tourist had already been lined up and may be announced in the nextfew months. "That person should fly nextyear," Anderson said.

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