Sensor Unlimited Inc.'s Co-Founder Gets Ready for $20M Space Flight

Gregory Olsen flying up with Russian crew, will spend week aboard space station


STAR CITY, Russia (AP) - U.S. space tourist Gregory Olsen joined a Russian cosmonaut and an American astronaut for training outside Moscow on Friday in preparation for their Oct. 1 launch to the international space station.

Asked if the price of the trip was worth it, Olsen, a 60-year-old scientist who is paying the Russian space agency $20 million, replied: ''I'll let you know when I come back.''

Russian cosmonaut Valery Tokarev and U.S. astronaut William McArthur, who are to spend six months at the station, will be accompanied on their flight by Olsen, who will stay on the station for a week.

The three will blast off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for the flight to the international station.

Olsen told reporters at the training complex in Star City, outside of Moscow, that he was looking forward to ''the joy of being in space, weightlessness and so on'' and hopes to bring his infrared camera on board ''to share the experience with kids.''

Olsen, a co-founder of a New Jersey-based infrared camera maker Sensor Unlimited Inc., will become the third paying passenger to visit the space station after American Dennis Tito and South African Mark Shuttleworth.

McArthur said he welcomed Olsen's presence on the flight.

''We're very confident that having Greg with us even in an emergency will be an asset,'' he said.

Tokarev and McArthur will replace Russian cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev and U.S. astronaut John Phillips, who have been on the station since April.

(c) 2005 Associated Press