Space Tourist Has Scientific Agenda

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The next space tourist doesn't intend to just kick back in the weightlessness for a week. Gregory Olsen is a New York scientist who made his fortune with optics inventions. He's packing a bag full of infrared sensors with him to do some research of his own during his $20 million visit to the International Space Station. "I feel this is a way of paying back," said Olsen, who told the Associated Press he will use his high-tech gear to analyze pollution in the Earth's atmosphere and research the health of agricultural systems on the ground. His eight-day adventure is scheduled for April 2005, but could be moved up to this October. Like the two preceding space tourists, Dennis Tito and Mark Shuttleworth, Olsen will ride a Soviet Soyuz rocket to the space station. The deal has been brokered through Space Adventures, which also arranged Tito's trip. Olsen begins six months of training at Star City, Russia, this week. Olsen said he hopes to share his adventure with young people through a video hookup with high schools in Trenton, N.J., and the Crow Reservation in Montana. And in case you were worried about how he's going to pay for all this, Olsen developed crystal technology that makes fiber optics systems run more efficiently. His company, Sensors Unlimited, was sold for $700 million a few years ago.