US millionaire buys $20m ticket to space station

Russia’s space agency has signed a space tourist contract with United States millionaire Gregory Olsen, a spokesperson said on Wednesday, in a deal that would make the 60-year-old scientist only the third tourist to visit the international space station.

Olsen could fly to the orbiting station as early as October, when the next Soyuz mission is scheduled to bring supplies and a new crew to the station, said Vyacheslav Davidenko, a spokesperson for the Russian agency.

Olsen, founder of a New Jersey-based infrared-camera maker, resumed training last month at a site just outside of Moscow for the flight on a Russian-built Soyuz spaceship.

Terms of the deal were not immediately released, but earlier reports said the flight could cost about $20-million (â,¬16 million).

Russian news reports said the deal was brokered by Virginia-based Space Adventures, the company that arranged trips for the only other two people to travel to the station as tourists—American Dennis Tito and South African Mark Shuttleworth.

Officials at Space Adventures and at Olsen’s company could not be immediately reached for comment.

Olsen, who holds advanced degrees in physics and materials science, has said he plans to bring along several of his company’s state-of-the-art infrared cameras to do science experiments.

The orbiting station’s current inhabitants—Russian cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev and US astronaut John Phillips—arrived there in April on a six-month mission. - Sapa-AP

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