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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 October 2005, 05:31 GMT 06:31 UK
Space tourist returns to Earth
Olsen returns to Earth (AP)

US space tourist Gregory Olsen has returned to Earth after 10 days on the International Space Station.

The Russian Soyuz capsule carrying the millionaire businessman, and two other crew, touched down in Kazakhstan in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

The ticket price was not disclosed, but it is believed the electronic sensors expert paid up to $21m (12m).

He is the third private citizen to have visited the station after Dennis Tito and Mark Shuttleworth.

'Safe return'

The Soyuz covered the approximately 400km (250 miles) from the station to Earth in about three and a half hours, entering the atmosphere at 0019 GMT and landing on the steppes of Kazakhstan.

Four search planes and 17 helicopters were dispatched to meet the spacecraft once radio and visual contact were established.

"The Soyuz completed a soft landing," a flight controller at mission control outside Moscow said. "The crew is feeling well."

Mr Olsen was joined in his Soyuz capsule by Russian Commander Sergei Krikalev and US Flight Engineer John Phillips.

Krikalev's flight broke the record for the most cumulative time in space - clocking up more than 800 days in orbit

Fifth anniversary

Mr Olsen, 60, is the chief executive of New Jersey-based research firm Sensors Unlimited.

The company develops and produces high-sensitivity film and photo cameras and works with the US space agency, Nasa.

"I want to have a good steak, a red wine and, of course, a hot shower," he told reporters on his return.

Left behind on the ISS is the Expedition 12 crew - US Commander Bill McArthur and Russian Flight Engineer Valery Tokarev who will mark the fifth anniversary of a human presence aboard the platform next month.

The two men will stay on the orbital outpost until next April.

McArthur, 54, a retired US Army colonel, is a veteran of three space shuttle flights, including one to the ISS and one to the Russian space station Mir.

Tokarev, 52, a colonel in the Russian Air Force, has made one previous spaceflight, to the ISS aboard a space shuttle.

A Russian Space Agency official said Japanese businessman Daisuke Enomoto was in line to be the world's fourth space tourist.



SEE ALSO:
'Space tourist' blasts off to ISS
01 Oct 05 |  Science/Nature
Deal signed to put Olsen in space
06 Jul 05 |  Science/Nature
Space record broken by Russian
16 Aug 05 |  Science/Nature
Q&A: Third space tourist
04 May 04 |  Science/Nature
Adventures in space
30 Jul 02 |  Hardtalk
Space tourist hails 'trip to paradise'
06 May 01 |  Science/Nature


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