Lehigh University
Lehigh University


Private space traveler to share his experiences

Greg H. Olsen logged more than 3 million miles in space in October 2005.

Greg H. Olsen has been described as a laid back, down-to-earth man. However, this changed—literally—when he became the third private citizen to orbit the earth on the International Space Station.

At 4 p.m. Thursday, in Rauch Business Center Room 184, Olsen will discuss his $20-million ticket to orbit the earth 150 times over a period of 10 days in 2005.

Olsen’s address, titled “My Space Voyage,” is sponsored by the Lehigh student chapter of the International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE). The event is also cosponsored by the Lehigh chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers. Refreshments will be served before the talk at 3:30 p.m.

Clara Dimas, co-founder and president of SPIE, saw Olsen speak in Montreal last fall and met him in the spring when Olsen visited Lehigh as a member of the advisory board to the department of electrical and computer engineering.

“I was floored at how well-rounded and down-to-earth he was,” says Dimas, who is a Ph.D. candidate in electrical engineering. “I was inspired to learn that you can take on any challenge at any point in your life. I was also amazed at his success and his impact on the field, as well as his civic and volunteer contributions.”

Olsen will speak at Lehigh without notes, illustrating his space travels with movies and a power-point presentation.

According to Newsweek magazine, Olsen logged more than 3 million miles in space after training 900 hours in five months at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Moscow. In space, he conducted experiments for the European Space Agency.

Olsen launched into space on Oct. 1, 2005, with cosmonaut Valeri Tokarev and astronaut Bill McArthur on a Russian Soyuz rocket, TMA-7. He docked on the International Space Station two days later. On Oct. 11, he returned to earth on a Soyuz TMA-6 with cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev and astronaut John Phillips.

The 62-year-old millionaire is also an entrepreneur, pioneer researcher and space scientist. Olsen, who holds a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from the University of Virginia, has been awarded 12 patents, written more than 100 technical papers, co-authored several book chapters and given numerous invited lectures.

As a research scientist at RCA Labs from 1972 to 1983, Olsen developed vapor phase epitaxial crystal growth of optoelectronic devices, including laser diodes and photodetectors for fiber optic applications based on the material indium-gallium-arsenide. Later, Olsen founded EPITAXX, a fiber-optic detector manufacturer, and Sensors Unlimited, a near-infrared camera manufacturer.

Now president of GHO Ventures in Princeton, N.J., Olsen performs speaking engagements to encourage children, particularly females and minorities, to consider careers in science and engineering.

--Natalia Krepak

Posted on Sunday, September 16, 2007

share this story: