Third Space Tourist Sets Science Agenda for ISS Trip

Third Space Tourist Sets Science Agenda for ISS Trip
Space tourist-in-training Greg Olsen, a scientist and entrepreneur, trains inside a mock up of a Soyuz space capsule in preparations for a $20-million flight to the International Space Station (ISS). (Image credit: Space Adventures.)

Despitepaying millions for a flight to the International Space Station (ISS), the nexttourist to the orbital platform does not plan to spend all of his time at play.

GregoryOlsen, an American scientist and entrepreneur set to become the third spacetourist to visit the ISS, will participate in a trio of experiments for theEuropean Space Agency (ESA) during his eight days aboard the station.

"I think it'svery important to him," said Stacey Tearne, a spokesperson with the Arlington,Va.-firm SpaceAdventures, which brokered Olsen's flight. "He wants to experience spaceand weightlessness. But being able to come back to research, and have some data...thatwill be very fulfilling for him."

Olsen willlaunch to the space station with ISSExpedition 12 commander Bill McArthur and flight engineer Valery Tokarev,who will take over control of the orbital laboratory from its currentcaretakers - cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev and NASA astronaut John Phillips of Expedition11. A Soyuz TMA-7 spacecraft is scheduled to carry Expedition 12 and Olsentoward the ISS on Sept. 30 at 11:54 p.m. EDT (0354 Oct. 1 GMT), NASA officialssaid.

Olsen's $20-millionspaceflight will follow the successful ISS flights of space tourists Dennis Tito in 2001 and MarkShuttleworth in 2002. Those flights, like Olsen's, were also brokered by SpaceAdventures.

As part of theagreement with the ESA, Olsen will serve as the test subject for two humanphysiology studies in microgravity. Included among them is the MotionPerception (MOP) study to better understand motion sickness, as well as a studyof lower back pain which ISS astronauts experience during long-duration spaceflights.Olsen will also help collect data on the different types of microbes living aboardthe station and its crew, Space Adventures officials said.

"Learninghow to live and work in space and my upcoming mission are truly a dream cometrue for me," Olsen said in a statement released Monday. "But I am first andforemost a scientist, and I am going to carry out real science aboard the ISS...Ido not consider myself a space tourist."

Hailingfrom Princeton, New Jersey, Olsen founded the firms Epitaxx, Inc. and SensorsUnlimited, Inc. His upcoming flight will mark the end of a sometimes rocky roadto space, during which an undisclosed medical condition prematurely endedhis cosmonaut training. That condition has since been resolved, Olsensaid.

In anearlier interview,Olsen told that he also hoped to communicate with local Princetonschoolchildren via ham radio sessions.

"He justcan't wait," said Tearne, who has been communicating with Olsen via e-mail, ofhis upcoming mission. "He's like a kid in a candy store."

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.