Candidate for space tour visits Moscow's cosmonauts training centre

Gregory Olsen, President of US-based Sensor Unlimited Inc has strong chances of becoming the third tourist on the International Space Station, a source close to the company told RIA Novosti on Friday.

The company looks for space tourists under an agreement with Russia's Federal Space Agency (Rosaviakosmos). However, Rosaviakosmos has declined comments on the matter.

The new space tourist may appear at a news conference in New York on March 29, Monday, according to the source.

Mr. Olsen already visited the Gagarin cosmonauts training centre near Moscow last week. He will, probably, be trained for the flight there. "The contract with Mr. Olsen had, apparently, not been signed at that time as he was introduced as a candidate for the April 2005 flight," Valery Korzun, first deputy head of the Gagarin centre, told RIA Novosti.

He said Mr. Olsen had had to undergo a medical examination in Russia to get permission for the flight.

Mr. Korzun said the possible No. 3 space tourist looked under 50.

Mr. Olsen can make a space flight as part of a short-term expedition on the Soyuz TMA-6 spacecraft next spring. The businessman can also fly to the ISS ahead of time, in autumn 2004, on the Soyuz TMA-5 booster rocket.

Denis Tito, the American who spent a week on the ISS in 2001, was the first ever space tourist. He paid $20 million for the tour. Mark Shuttlworth, a millionaire from South Africa, visited the ISS in 2002 for the same amount of money.

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