Wahoo space tourist Gregory Olsen to speak
Less than two months ago, citizen space explorer Gregory H. Olsen (Engineering ’71) traveled more than 3 million miles in space. On Nov. 8 at 4 p.m. Olsen (above left) will speak in Newcomb Hall Theater about his recent 10-day mission to the International Space Station (ISS).
Aboard a Soyuz spacecraft, Olsen became the world’s third space tourist on Sept. 30, when he began more than a hundred orbits of Earth.
During his 10 days in space he performed three science experiments to study the human body’s reaction to the absence of gravity.
A scientist and entrepreneur, Olsen said the trip was worth the two years of preparation. “It was everything I expected. I’ve seen thousands of pictures of Earth, but just to see it with my own eyes and see how finite it is was a wondrous thing.”
Olsen hopes to use his flight experience to encourage young people, particularly inner-city youth, to pursue careers in science and education.
A number of Wahoos supported Olsen in his undertaking. Virginia-based Space Adventures Ltd., founded by Eric C. Anderson (Engineering ’97), arranged the Olsen space mission. (Anderson also is the author of the first-ever space travel guide, due out in November.) Astronomy student Heather Hershley (’05) directed a project to build a spectrometer for his flight. U.Va. professors Doris Kuhlmann-Wilsdorf and William Jesser, both of whom worked with Olsen when he was a graduate student at the University, made the trip to Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to witness Olsen’s launch into orbit.
Anderson will join Olsen in a question-and-answer period following the presentation, and both men will attend a reception in the lobby of the Newcomb Hall Theater immediately following the session (5:30 to 7 p.m.). The presentation and reception are free and open to the public. For further information, please call 924-1381.