Additional notes about Olsen’s book

In this week’s issue of The Space Review I reviewed By Any Means Necessary!, a book by Greg Olsen in large part about his trip to the ISS as a private citizen in 2005. The book is broadly an autobiography, from his childhood to his post-flight activities, but it is largely centered around his efforts to get into space.

One interesting thing about the book is that it is published not by a conventional publisher but by Olsen’s own company, GHO Ventures, which he set up several years ago to manage his investments. That may make it a little difficult to find in brick-and-mortar bookstores; it’s also not available on the web sites of Barnes and Noble and Borders, but is available on Interestingly, the copy I ordered from Amazon stated at the back that it was printed in Charleston, South Carolina, on December 19th—three days after I ordered it. The quality of the book, though, is quite good, indistinguishable from books released by large publishers.

An issue that came up in the comments of the review was Olsen’s hopes that his flight would, in effect, pay for itself through research he would perform on the mission. He doesn’t go into great detail about this in the book, but does discuss his (ultimately unsuccessful) efforts to get an export license for an infrared camera his company, Sensors Unlimited, had developed that he wanted to take to the station. (He needed the license since he was training in Russia and launching from Kazakhstan.) He also wanted to perform some gallium arsenide crystal growth experiments using the “glovebox” on the station, but the glovebox “became unavailable”, he writes in the book. (Chris Faranetta, in the review’s comments, states that the glovebox furnace was broken and would not be repaired “due to concerns over the crew handling materials that contained arsenic”; there were also concerns about getting export approvals for the materials that Olsen wanted to fly.)

As I note in the review, Olsen is the first space tourist to write a book about his flight to space, but he won’t be the only one for long. Anousheh Ansari is working on My Dream of Stars with co-author Homer Hickham, of Rocket Boys fame. That book is being published by Palgrave Macmillan with a release date of March 2.

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