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Gregory Hammond "Greg" Olsen (born April 20, 1945) is an American entrepreneur, engineer and scientist who, in October 2005, became the third private citizen to make a self-funded trip to the International Space Station with the company Space Adventures.

Olsen was the co-founder and chairman of Sensors Unlimited Inc., a company developing optoelectronic devices such as sensitive near-infrared (NIR) and shortwave-infrared (SWIR) cameras. One of Sensors Unlimited's major customers is NASA. Currently, Olsen is President of GHO Ventures, LLC, in Princeton, New Jersey, where he manages his angel investments, South African winery, Montana ranch, and performs numerous speaking engagements to encourage children – especially minority and female children – to consider careers in science or engineering. He also is a physics professor at Rider University.

Early life and education[edit | edit source]

Olsen, born in Brooklyn, New York, was the son of an IBEW Local 3 electrician. He graduated from Ridgefield Park High School, Ridgefield Park, New Jersey in 1962. After being written off as a failure by teachers due to poor grades in high school, Olsen planned to join the United States Army until he was counseled to try college for several months. Through an IBEW Local 3 scholarship, Olsen attempted college, kept his grades high, and graduated magna cum laude with multiple degrees from Fairleigh Dickinson University. He later graduated with a PhD in materials science from the University of Virginia.

Olsen admits to little business training and believes that for companies making less than 100 million (the smaller companies as he calls them) that success is based more on “intuition, instinct and hard work.” He does credit his success to his graduate science training. “Two of my start-up companies are from the fields I trained in. For instance, my first company EPITAXX (a supplier of optical detectors and receivers for fiber optic telecommunications and cable television networks) relied on my knowledge of physics and material science.” Olsen likes to put his money into high-risk start-ups.[1]

Spaceflight details[edit | edit source]

Having flown to the International Space Station (ISS) with Soyuz TMA-7 (launched October 1, 2005, docked October 3) and landed with Soyuz TMA-6 (October 10), Olsen is the third self-funded space tourist to visit the ISS, following Dennis Tito (2001) and Mark Shuttleworth (2002) (all three space tourists flew through Space Adventures, Ltd.). Olsen has made some comments indicating that he is unhappy with the "space tourist" designation. The following is from National Geographic's coverage "Space Launch – Along for the Ride (2007)": "Greg: The term space tourist implies that you`ll write a check and you go for a joyride. And believe me that is not the case at all. Narrator: Greg worked hard to get this far, training for two years with the Russian Space Agency."

He conducted several experiments in remote sensing and astronomy while aboard the space station. Dr. Olsen is a licensed Amateur Radio radio operator holding FCC callsign KC2ONX and spoke to students via ham radio from space through the ARISS project. In an informal presentation at a New Jersey high school, Dr. Olsen estimated the price of his space excursion at US$20 million.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Sources[edit | edit source]

  1. Dr. Olsen's presentation at Hopewell Valley Regional High School, Pennington, New Jersey, USA on 26 April 2006.
  2. Dr. Olsen's presentation at Montgomery Township High School, Skillman, New Jersey, USA on 20 May 2006
  3. Dr. Olsen's presentation at Bear Tavern Elementary school Hopewell Valley Regional school, Titusville New Jersey,USA on 26 November 2008

External links[edit | edit source]

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