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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Space Adventures Gets a New Client

PRINCETON, New Jersey -- Greg Olsen, the chief executive officer of an optical-equipment company, will visit the international space station in April 2005 as the next space tourist.

Olsen, 58, is CEO of Princeton, New Jersey-based Sensors Unlimited, which makes optical equipment such as night-vision cameras and 3D-imaging systems for the military and industry.

During his 6-day stay on the space station, Olsen said he plans to use his company's special infrared camera to look at the Earth and into space. The camera is used for commercial and military applications including checking airplane wings for ice and examining fruit shipments for potential bruises.

"We hope to bring a lot of information down and share our information," Olsen said in an interview. "Hopefully we'll open up a lot of doors for exploration in space."

Next month, Olsen will travel to the Yury Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City to begin training for the trip to the outpost aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, said Space Adventures, which is arranging the voyage.

"He has very interesting ideas for what he is going to do," Space Adventures CEO Eric Anderson said. "He's very dedicated to space and to education and to doing science. He's an ideal candidate for space flight. He's certainly a commercial passenger, but he's less of a tourist and more of a scientist."

Closely held Space Adventures, based in Virginia, arranged similar trips for California investment adviser Dennis Tito and South African businessman Mark Shuttleworth. Each man paid $20 million for trips to the outpost in 2001 and 2002.

Russia had suspended tourist trips to the space station in February 2003 after NASA's space shuttle Columbia disintegrated on its way back to Earth. The U.S. space agency then grounded its three remaining orbiters. Russia lifted the suspension in June.

"He's the first commercial passenger to go since Columbia and it's a little bit of a different world," Anderson said. "His understanding of the risk has not changed his mind at all. I think it's refreshing that he's decided to do this in the name of science. That's exactly what we need, trying to honor people who lost their lives trying to innovate."

"Everything's a risk,'' Olsen said. "Walking out onto Fifth Avenue, crossing the street. I just don't think about that part. Anything worth doing has inherent risks in it."

In 1991, he founded Sensors Unlimited, which he later sold for about $700 million in stock.

A plan to take pop singer Lance Bass to the station in 2002 fell through after his backers couldn't come up with the $20 million. Bass, a member of the group 'N Sync, had trained for the trip at the Star City center for about two months.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has relied on Russia to take crews and supplies to the space station, which orbits 386 kilometers above Earth, since the Columbia accident, which killed all seven astronauts on board.

In March 2001, the space agency barred Tito from training with two Russian cosmonauts who were visiting Houston to learn safety procedures on board the station. NASA later backed off the opposition and a year later issued rules for nonprofessional space travelers.