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  • Greg Olson Readies for Space Flight
May 2004
PRINCETON, N.J., May 28 -- Sensors Unlimited Inc.'s CEO, Greg Olsen, PhD, began training last month at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, the first leg of his journey to the International Space Station aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft in April 2005.

Olsen's trip is being arranged by Space Adventures, an Arlington, Va.-based "space experiences company" -- a sort of travel agency for space explorers -- which organized flights for the world's first private space travelers, American businessman Dennis Tito in 2001 and Mark Shuttleworth, the first African in space, in 2002.

CEO Unlimited: Sensors Unlimited's CEO, Greg Olsen, is undergoing cosmonaut training (Photo: Space Adventures)
   According to a USA Today article, Olsen is paying $20 million for the chance to blast off on a Russian rocket and spend six days on the Earth-orbiting space station.

Olsen founded Sensors Unlimited, a provider of innovative short-wave infrared imaging products, in 1992. He hopes to access equipment on the International Space Station to conduct various science and research projects.

"Greg is one of the premier scientists in his field. This mission validates his commitment to his work and desire to make a difference in private space exploration," said Marshall Cohen, president of Sensors Unlimited. "We are excited for Dr. Olsen and thrilled about his mission objectives."

Olsen’s mission continues Space Adventures' ongoing effort of opening the space frontier to private citizens. He said he hopes his trip will inspire more young people to study science and technology.

"I was hooked on space since I was a child and decided then that space and technology were important for our future," Olsen said. "My hope is that more young people will realize this too and desire to make a difference for humanity’s future."

Olsen was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1945, and was raised in what he describes as "a working-class family." He graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University with a B.S. in electrical engineering and physics and a master's degree in physics. He then earned a PhD in materials science from The University of Virginia. From 1972 to 1983, he worked at RCA Laboratories, now known as the Sarnoff Corp. In 1984, Olsen started his first company, Epitaxx, which he eventually sold for $12 million. Olsen later sold Sensors Unlimited for $700 million, and in 2002 orchestrated a management buy-back of the company.

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