A competition in the US is offering a prize that is quite literally out of this world – a chance to climb into a rocket and be blasted high above our planet. It could be you.
The offer is being made by the Space Needle, a famous Seattle landmark, to celebrate its upcoming 50th anniversary and to highlight the Needle’s rich heritage and plans for the future.
The prize will involve a trip to a point 62 miles (100 km) above Earth – an altitude officially known as “astronaut altitude.” The competition organizers explain: “As the vehicle reaches the maximum altitude, the rocket engines will shut down and participants will experience up to five minutes of continuous weightlessness, all the while gazing at the vast blackness of space and the blue horizon of the Earth below.”
To make the competition prize possible, the Space Needle has joined forces with Virginia-based Space Adventures, a company that already offers weightless flights to the global marketplace, and even has ambitious plans to one day make “a return trip to the moon” – it’s reassuring to know that it’s a return trip.
According to the Space Needle’s website, clients of Space Adventures have already spent more than 2,000 hours in space – though of course, the cost must have been astronomical and well out of the range of most regular folk. Win this competition and you could be going up for free.
To have a chance of bagging the top prize, entrants must first submit their name via an online form by the end of November. A thousand names will then be drawn and a competition stage will begin involving the making of a short video followed by a public vote to choose finalists. A series of challenges will then be set, with the winner being awarded the ticket for the ride in the rocket.
In a press release issued by Space Adventures on Monday, the company said, “It is our mission to open the space frontier to the private sector and there is no better way to energize the general public, especially our youth, about space then to offer a flight opportunity to the masses.”
It continued, “Our country has a great history of manned spaceflight, but our future in space is boundless. I applaud the Needle for assembling such a great public initiative.”
Supporter of the project and second man on the moon Buzz Aldrin commented, “In 1969 when I made the first lunar landing with Neil Armstrong and we walked on the moon, the achievement was incomprehensible but we’d done it. Today we’re embarking on a journey that will carry hundreds of thousands of people like you and me into space and that’s just as remarkable.”
The exact date of the space flight has not been fixed. The competition is open to US residents over 18 years of age. Non-US residents will either have to move to the country or take another look at that build-your-own-space-rocket manual.