Many have dreamed of voyaging into space, but unless you're an astronaut, pop star Lance Bass, or billionaire Richard Branson, taking a trip beyond the Earth's atmosphere has been way too expensive, if not impossible -- until now.
On Tuesday, Space Adventures, a private space exploration company, announced it will send one lucky contestant into space next year. The sweepstakes, dubbed Space Race 2012, is a joint venture between Space Adventures and the Space Needle in Seattle, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
The program has been lauded by the likes of former astronautBuzz Aldrin
, a crew member on the Apollo 11 moon mission and now a member of Space Adventures' advisory board.
Indeed, with the dissolution of NASA's space shuttle program, many people are looking toward private space exploration as the next frontier.
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To date, Space Adventures has arranged eight flights to the International Space Station for individuals who have the necessary funds (about $15 million each). That's not exactly pocket change for the average American citizen, which is what makes Space Race 2012 an exciting sweepstakes.
Space fans can enter the contest until November 30 by filling out an entry form at spaceneedle.com or facebook.com/spaceneedle. Monthly prizes will be given out (including a Celestron NexStar 8SE Telescope in September and a SuperCade upright classic arcade machine in November) until the skill-based competition for the grand prize (the 2012 trip for two to space) begins on December 1. A thousand of the sweepstakes entries will be selected for that competition, which ends December 29.
The sweepstakes and competition are open to any U.S. citizen over the age of 18. More than 7,400 people have already signed up. For more information, visit www.spaceneedle.com.