Bernt Balchen’s out of this world lodge meeting

Meet Olsen, the world’s third “space tourist”

Photo: NASA / Wikimedia Commons Greg Olsen, Soyuz Spaceflight Participant, attired in a Russian Sokol suit, takes a break from a training session in Star City, Russia, to pose for a portrait.

Photo: NASA / Wikimedia Commons
Greg Olsen, Soyuz Spaceflight Participant, attired in a Russian Sokol suit, takes a break from a training session in Star City, Russia, to pose for a portrait.

Millie Diefenbach
Bernt Balchen Lodge

At the April 19 meeting of Bernt Balchen Lodge #3-566, Dr. Gregory Olsen was the guest speaker and presented an interesting account of his training and space ride aboard a Soyouz Russian spacecraft on a 10-day trip to the International Space Station in 2005. He is the third private citizen to launch into orbit.

Greg was born in Brooklyn, in 1945, to Sig and Mildred Olsen. He spent several years of his young life in Rowland and attended school in Lackawaxen. The family eventually moved to New Jersey where he graduated from high school in Ridgefield Park. He studied physics at Fairleigh Dickinson University and later, the University of Virginia, where he earned a PhD in Materials Science. Dr. Olsen co-founded EPITAXX, a fiber optic detector manufacturer, in 1984. In 1991, he also co-founded Sensors Unlimited, fiber optic component design, fabrication, and supply operation. He started his career as a visiting scientist in the Physics Department at the University of Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

Olsen lives in Princeton, N.J., where he is president of GHO Ventures and manages his angel investments, South African Winery, and Montana Ranch. He speaks to many groups of children, women, and minorities, urging them to consider careers in science and engineering. He is active in the New Jersey Technology Council, NJTC Venture Fund, Institute of Electronic and Electrical Engineers, and NJ Commission on Science and Technology.

While in space, Olsen conducted several experiments in remote sensing and astronomy. He had to train for two years with the Russian Space Agency before making the trip.

We were indeed happy and proud to host his presentation. It was good to welcome him “back home” as well!

This article originally appeared in the May 15, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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