July 6, 2005

Businessman to be new Russian space tourist

MOSCOW (Reuters) - U.S. entrepreneur Gregory Olsen will bethe third tourist to visit space on a Russian rocket, Russia'sspace agency said on Wednesday.

Olsen, a technology innovator considered an authority onlasers and crystal growth, had been scheduled to visit theInternational Space Station (ISS) in April but local mediareported his application was rejected on health grounds.

"Recently a contract was signed between Olsen and Roscosmosand the American tourist was added to the crew of the ninthexpedition to the ISS," Vyacheslav Davidenko, spokesman for theFederal Space Agency, told Itar-Tass news agency.

Interfax news agency said he would take off in October.

Russian Soyuz craft carry three-man crews and have takentwo tourists -- U.S. businessman Dennis Tito and South Africa'sMark Shuttleworth -- on week-long trips into space for reportedfees of $20 million.