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American 'Space Tourist' Packs Suitcase Ahead Of Launch

After around a week in the ISS, Olsen will leave his two crewmates and head back to earth with the space station's current occupants, Russian Sergei Krikalyov and American John Phillips.
by Karim Talbi
Baikonur, Kazakhstan (AFP) Sep 29, 2005
Another "space tourist" was set to be taken for the ride of his life as Russia prepared Thursday to shoot American millionaire Greg Olson into orbit for a 10-day, 20-million-dollar stay aboard the International Space Station.

The TMA-7 Soyuz spacecraft, atop its launcher, was hauled from its hangar at the Baikonur space centre in Kazakhstan along a four-kilometre (2.5-mile) track to the Yuri Gagarin launchpad from where it is due to blast off on Saturday morning.

The 50-metre (165-foot) apparatus was gently raised to a vertical position, ready for loading with 300 tonnes of fuel.

Olsen, 59, is due to head into space with Russian cosmonaut Valery Tokarev and US astronaut William McArthur, arriving at the ISS on Monday, after a period adjusting to conditions.

He is the third "space tourist", following in the footsteps of American Dennis Tito in 2001 and South African Mark Shuttleworth in 2002, and has paid 20 million dollars (16.7 million euros) for the 10-day trip.

Despite the hefty price-tag, Olsen can expect few creature comforts aboard the Soyuz, a low-frills workhorse that has proved more reliable than the vastly more expensive fleet of US space shuttles, currently grounded.

After around a week in the ISS, he will leave his two crewmates and head back to earth with the space station's current occupants, Russian Sergei Krikalyov and American John Phillips.

Their capsule is due to land on the vast Kazakh steppe in which Baikonur is located on October 11, although the precise landing spot has on previous occasions proved hard to predict.

Krikalyov and Phillips have been aboard the orbiting ISS since April 17, where the former broke the record for the most time in space on August 16, having clocked up 747 days over successive trips.

Olsen has been preparing for his trip at the Star City training centre outside Moscow.

He heads a New Jersey-based firm that makes electronic sensors for military and civilian use and is expected to join in research work aboard the ISS.

The grounding once more of US space shuttles in August due to a mishap on the latest mission - only the first since the crash of the Columbia orbiter in 2003 - has again left Russia with a monopoly on manned flight to the International Space Station, which is a joint project between the United States, Canada, Japan, Russia and the 11-nation European Space Agency.

All rights reserved. � 2005 Agence France-Presse. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by Agence France-Presse. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of Agence France-Presse.

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Greg Olsen To Communicate With High School Students From ISS
Arlington VA (SPX) Sep 29, 2005
Space Adventures announced Wednesday that their orbital spaceflight client, Greg Olsen, Ph.D., plans to communicate from the International Space Station with three select high schools via HAM radio signal during his upcoming mission.

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