Gregory Schneider, 27, was chosen Wednesday from some 50,000 applicants to take a 20-minute trip on a private spacecraft, once it is built. The competition, with results announced at the base of the Space Needle, was part of the 50th-anniversary celebration of Seattle's World's Fair.
At the base of the Space Needle on Wednesday, former astronaut Buzz Aldrin announced that a recent law-school graduate from Arizona had won a trip to suborbital space, as part of the 50th-anniversary celebration of the World’s Fair.
Gregory Schneider, 27, was chosen from some 50,000 applicants to take a 20-minute trip on a private spacecraft, once it is built. In a video he submitted, Schneider featured his children, saying he wanted to go to space to inspire them.
“There is a mystique about space and we are trying to renew that,” Aldrin said, reflecting on what commercial spaceflight might look like in the future. Aldrin was the second astronaut to walk on the moon in 1969 and is on the board of the Virginia company that will fly Schneider to space.
Five contestants were selected to fly out to Seattle for a final week of competition, and only two, Schneider, from Tucson, Ariz., and Sara Cook, 24, from Washington, D.C., remained after a round of gimmicky games at the Museum of Flight on Tuesday.
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The two finalists started Wednesday morning on the roof of the Space Needle, racing to climb the antenna to determine who would go first in the final competition. Schneider’s climb time was faster, and he chose to go first in the next activity.
After Schneider and Cook climbed back down to the observation deck, they were fitted for harnesses and crawled out to the halo — the outer perimeter — of the Space Needle.
As they walked around the edge, they were asked 10 space-trivia questions posted on the wall of the Needle. Time penalties were given for each wrong answer.
Schneider won by answering eight of the questions correctly.
As for Cook, she was glad for the experience.
“I had the opportunity to do things I never would have gotten to do,” Cook said. “I mean, how many people can say they scaled the Space Needle?”
Schneider, who may need to wait a few years for his flight, said he was humbled. This is a big time for him. He finished law school last week and his wife is expecting their third child in June.
When Aldrin, a space pioneer, named him the winner, Schneider was moved to tears.
“It makes every day sharper and clearer,” he said, adding that this incredible opportunity was the time of his life.
Mary Jean Spadafora: 206-464-2168 or firstname.lastname@example.org.