Space flight training 2001
Space Adventures arranged for American businessman Dennis Tito to fly to the International Space Station in 2001. Image: Undertow851/Flickr/CC BY

For its 50th anniversary, the Space Needle is sponsoring a competition with a unique prize. The winner will receive a trip into space.

A symbol of the space race

The Space Needle was originally built for the Seattle 1962 World’s Fair as a symbol of the space race and future-mindedness. For its 45th anniversary, the Seattle landmark gave away a trip to Paris. But for its golden anniversary, the Space Needle wanted to do something to recapture its original theme. The competition was announced Monday, and by noon 1,700 people had already entered.

Space Needle CEO Ron Sevart said:

“We wanted to do something amazing. This was why the Space Needle was built, the dawn of the Space Age. As the space-shuttle program winds down, what’s next is the capability of the average citizen to enjoy space travel.”

How to enter

Any U.S. citizen 18 or older is eligible to enter. To become a contestant, sign up at the Space Needle’s website, www.spaceneedle.com, or on Facebook at facebook.com/SpaceNeedle. One thousand finalists will be randomly picked by a computer. Those finalists will be asked to submit a one-minute video, and 40 of those will be posted on the Internet for public voting. The top 20 will be given a fitness evaluation and the winner will be selected in April.

Walked on the moon

The competition was announced Monday by former astronaut Buzz Aldrin, one of the few menĀ  who has walked on the moon. “There’s no other thrill than to be in space and circle the Earth,” he said.

Six minutes of zero gravity

The winning flight will last about a half an hour, travel 62 miles into space, provide six minutes of zero gravity, and cost about $110,000. Virginia-based Space Adventures will handle the travel arrangements. Chairman Eric Anderson says the private space-travel agency has been offering space flights for 10 years now, and has sent eight people to the International Space Station. Miles logged altogether: 36 million.

A passion for space travel

Anderson wanted to be an astronaut but was prevented from joining NASA because of poor eyesight. So he created a private space-travel agency instead. “If you want to go to space in your lifetime, you can do it,” he said.

Sources

Seattle Times: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2015793654_spaceneedle02m.html?syndication=rss
Space Needle: http://www.spaceneedle.com/spacerace2012/rules.html
Space Adventures: http://www.spaceadventures.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Our_Vision.welcome

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