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Gregory Olsen

Gregory Olsen

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Gregory Hammond "Greg" Olsen (born April 20, 1945) is an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 entrepreneur, engineer
Engineer
An engineer is a professional practitioner of engineering, concerned with applying scientific knowledge, mathematics and ingenuity to develop solutions for technical problems. Engineers design materials, structures, machines and systems while considering the limitations imposed by practicality,...

 and scientist
Scientist
A scientist in a broad sense is one engaging in a systematic activity to acquire knowledge. In a more restricted sense, a scientist is an individual who uses the scientific method. The person may be an expert in one or more areas of science. This article focuses on the more restricted use of the word...

 who, in October 2005, became the third private citizen to make a self-funded trip to the International Space Station
International Space Station
The International Space Station is a habitable, artificial satellite in low Earth orbit. The ISS follows the Salyut, Almaz, Cosmos, Skylab, and Mir space stations, as the 11th space station launched, not including the Genesis I and II prototypes...

 with the company Space Adventures
Space Adventures
Space Adventures, Ltd. is a Virginia, USA-based space tourism company founded in 1998 by Eric C. Anderson. , offerings include zero-gravity atmospheric flights, orbital spaceflights , and other spaceflight-related experiences including cosmonaut training, spacewalk training, and launch tours...

.

Olsen was the co-founder and chairman of Sensors Unlimited Inc., a company developing optoelectronic devices such as sensitive near-infrared
Infrared
Infrared light is electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength longer than that of visible light, measured from the nominal edge of visible red light at 0.74 micrometres , and extending conventionally to 300 µm...

 (NIR) and shortwave-infrared (SWIR) camera
Infrared photography
In infrared photography, the film or image sensor used is sensitive to infrared light. The part of the spectrum used is referred to as near-infrared to distinguish it from far-infrared, which is the domain of thermal imaging. Wavelengths used for photography range from about 700 nm to about...

s. One of Sensors Unlimited's major customers is NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

. Currently, Olsen is President of GHO Ventures, LLC, in Princeton
Princeton, New Jersey
Princeton is a community located in Mercer County, New Jersey, United States. It is best known as the location of Princeton University, which has been sited in the community since 1756...

, New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

, where he manages his angel investments
Angel investor
An angel investor or angel is an affluent individual who provides capital for a business start-up, usually in exchange for convertible debt or ownership equity...

, South African winery, Montana
Montana
Montana is a state in the Western United States. The western third of Montana contains numerous mountain ranges. Smaller, "island ranges" are found in the central third of the state, for a total of 77 named ranges of the Rocky Mountains. This geographical fact is reflected in the state's name,...

 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
Physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

 professor at Rider University
Rider University
Rider University is a private, coeducational and nonsectarian university located chiefly in Lawrenceville, in Mercer County, New Jersey, United States...

.

Early life and education


Olsen, born in Brooklyn
Brooklyn
Brooklyn is the most populous of New York City's five boroughs, with nearly 2.6 million residents, and the second-largest in area. Since 1896, Brooklyn has had the same boundaries as Kings County, which is now the most populous county in New York State and the second-most densely populated...

, New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

, was the son of an IBEW
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers is a labor union which represents workers in the electrical industry in the United States, Canada, Panama and several Caribbean island nations; particularly electricians, or Inside Wiremen, in the construction industry and linemen and other...

 Local 3 electrician. He graduated from Ridgefield Park High School
Ridgefield Park High School
Ridgefield Park High School is a six-year comprehensive public high school that serves students in seventh through twelfth grade from Ridgefield Park, in Bergen County, New Jersey, United States, operating as part of the Ridgefield Park Public Schools...

, Ridgefield Park, New Jersey
Ridgefield Park, New Jersey
Ridgefield Park is a village in Bergen County, New Jersey, United States. The population was 12,729 at the 2010 United States Census. Of 566 municipalities statewide, Ridgefield Park is only one of three with a village type of government in New Jersey, along with Loch Arbour and Ridgewood.The...

 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
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 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
Latin honors
Latin honors are Latin phrases used to indicate the level of academic distinction with which an academic degree was earned. This system is primarily used in the United States, Canada, and in many countries of continental Europe, though some institutions also use the English translation of these...

with multiple degrees from Fairleigh Dickinson University
Fairleigh Dickinson University
Fairleigh Dickinson University is a private university founded as a junior college in 1942. It now has several campuses located in New Jersey, Canada, and the United Kingdom.-Description:...

. He later graduated with a PhD
PHD
PHD may refer to:*Ph.D., a doctorate of philosophy*Ph.D. , a 1980s British group*PHD finger, a protein sequence*PHD Mountain Software, an outdoor clothing and equipment company*PhD Docbook renderer, an XML renderer...

 in materials science
Materials science
Materials science is an interdisciplinary field applying the properties of matter to various areas of science and engineering. This scientific field investigates the relationship between the structure of materials at atomic or molecular scales and their macroscopic properties. It incorporates...

 from the University of Virginia
University of Virginia
The University of Virginia is a public research university located in Charlottesville, Virginia, United States, founded by Thomas Jefferson...

.

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.

Spaceflight details


Having flown to the International Space Station
International Space Station
The International Space Station is a habitable, artificial satellite in low Earth orbit. The ISS follows the Salyut, Almaz, Cosmos, Skylab, and Mir space stations, as the 11th space station launched, not including the Genesis I and II prototypes...

 (ISS) with Soyuz TMA-7
Soyuz TMA-7
Soyuz TMA-7 was a transport mission for portions of the International Space Station Expedition 12 crew launched October 1, 2005. The flight delivered ISS Commander William McArthur and ISS Flight Engineer Valery Tokarev to the station to replace Expedition 11 crew members...

 (launched October 1, 2005, docked October 3) and landed with Soyuz TMA-6
Soyuz TMA-6
Soyuz TMA-6 was a Soyuz mission to the International Space Station launched by a Soyuz-FG launch vehicle.-Crew:-Docking with ISS:*Docked to ISS: April 17, 2005, 02:20 UTC...

 (October 10), Olsen is the third self-funded space tourist to visit the ISS, following Dennis Tito
Dennis Tito
Dennis Anthony Tito is an Italian American engineer and multimillionaire, most widely known as the first space tourist to fund his own trip into space. In mid-2001, he spent nearly eight days in orbit as a crew member of ISS EP-1, a visiting mission to the International Space Station...

 (2001) and Mark Shuttleworth
Mark Shuttleworth
Mark Richard Shuttleworth is a South African entrepreneur who was the second self-funded space tourist. Shuttleworth founded Canonical Ltd. and as of 2010, provides leadership for the Ubuntu operating system...

 (2002) (all three space tourists flew through Space Adventures
Space Adventures
Space Adventures, Ltd. is a Virginia, USA-based space tourism company founded in 1998 by Eric C. Anderson. , offerings include zero-gravity atmospheric flights, orbital spaceflights , and other spaceflight-related experiences including cosmonaut training, spacewalk training, and launch tours...

, 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
Remote sensing
Remote sensing is the acquisition of information about an object or phenomenon, without making physical contact with the object. In modern usage, the term generally refers to the use of aerial sensor technologies to detect and classify objects on Earth by means of propagated signals Remote sensing...

 and astronomy
Astronomy
Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

 while aboard the space station. Dr. Olsen is a licensed Amateur Radio
Amateur radio
Amateur radio is the use of designated radio frequency spectrum for purposes of private recreation, non-commercial exchange of messages, wireless experimentation, self-training, and emergency communication...

 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.

Sources

  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