Skip to main content
U.S. Edition
Search
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
SCIENCE & SPACE
CNN Access

Space tourist calls flight 'awe-inspiring'

vert.olsen.gloves.jpg
Millionaire scientist Gregory Olsen holds up the gloves he wore in space.

YOUR E-MAIL ALERTS

Space Programs
CNN Access

NEW YORK (CNN) -- American millionaire Gregory Olsen recently became the third civilian to visit space -- taking a trip this month to the international space station on board a Russian Soyuz rocket.

Olsen, who spent two years training and paid $20 million for the trip, spoke Monday with CNN's Tony Harris about his space adventure.

HARRIS: Did you have a nice flight?

OLSEN: Yes, it was the experience of a lifetime to be able to float around in space and look out at the Earth. I just can't describe how awe-inspiring it really is.

HARRIS: Tell me about it. I want to know more.

OLSEN: Well, when that rocket launched I was the most peaceful, happiest person you can imagine. I had no fears. My only fear was maybe that I wouldn't get to go, and once I knew I was going, I was happy.

HARRIS: Where did that fear come from that you might not be able to go?

OLSEN: Well, you know, a year ago I had a small medical disqualification. The Russians had very strict medical standards, so, you know, it was kind of a devastating blow to me. And I always had that in the back of my head that maybe something would come up, but I was always very healthy and, you know, I did get approval from the medical boards. My own doctors approved -- I was fit, and I was able to do it.

HARRIS: How tough was the training?

OLSEN: ... It was like being back in college again -- classes, physical training. But I loved it. It was like 30 years ago.

HARRIS: Give us a couple of -- maybe the big and maybe a couple of the small take-aways of this trip for you.

OLSEN: The big one was that I was able to achieve my goal of getting into space, and the highlight was just floating in air and looking out. Nothing can beat that. Some of the small things -- when I came back to Earth, I brought my space gloves with me.

HARRIS: What do you have there? Are those the gloves you actually wore?

OLSEN: These are the gloves I actually wore. And yesterday I was with my grandchildren, Justin, Carter and Danielle, and they were playing with the gloves and that just made me feel great.

HARRIS: Did you get an opportunity to float around on the international space station?

OLSEN: Yes, I did. It's roughly the width of a tractor-trailer -- about four car lengths long, so I would practice just zooming from one end to the other, which was quite a trip in itself.

HARRIS: That's odd. We think of it as being -- I guess from the pictures and everything -- we think of it as being bigger than that.

OLSEN: No, no. That's it. Now, some parts remain to be built, of course. That's why we have the shuttle.

HARRIS: I have to ask you, when you were making the connection with the students back here on Earth -- I understand you had the capability -- I know there was one hookup with the students at Princeton. What were they most interested in learning about [from] your trip?

OLSEN: What it's like to eat, to sleep and the restroom facilities. Those were the big questions.

HARRIS: So what was it like to eat?

OLSEN: Good. It's like a camping trip -- packaged goods. Sleeping was either the ceiling or the wall -- you take a choice. And the restrooms were a vacuum hose.

HARRIS: I understand your company makes cameras and highly sensitive film.

OLSEN: Yes, my company Sensors Unlimited makes a near-infrared camera that can see in the dark. You know, we can see the health of crops by the water content. But night vision is a big application for the camera.

HARRIS: So were there actually experiments tied to the work that your company does?

OLSEN: Yes. I had planned to take the Sensors camera up, and unfortunately, we couldn't get approval to do that so I did take a model of the camera up.

HARRIS: So what do you do with this experience now? Do you talk about it to anyone who wants to hear about it?

OLSEN: That's exactly right. I want to focus on youngsters. I want to talk to as many school groups as I can, especially in inner cities, my home state of New Jersey and New York City. And wherever else they'll listen to me, I'll be there.

HARRIS: Changed your life, didn't it?

OLSEN: It sure did.

Story Tools
Click Here to try 4 Free Trial Issues of Time! cover
Top Stories
Get up-to-the minute news from CNN
CNN.com gives you the latest stories and video from the around the world, with in-depth coverage of U.S. news, politics, entertainment, health, crime, tech and more.
Top Stories
Get up-to-the minute news from CNN
CNN.com gives you the latest stories and video from the around the world, with in-depth coverage of U.S. news, politics, entertainment, health, crime, tech and more.
CNN U.S.
CNN TV E-mail Services CNN Mobile CNNAvantGo Ad Info About Us Preferences
Search
© 2007 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by CNN.com
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more
Radio News Icon Download audio news  |  RSS Feed Add RSS headlines