Once again, my boundless gratitude – and tumultuous envy! – to Raven Lunatick for learning about this before me and making me aware of it. It’s called the “Claim Your Place In Space” challenge, a social media campaign that offers a ticket on a maiden space voyage, and which is being hosted by the Royal Aviation Company – or Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij (KLM), as they are known in the Netherlands.
In just a few days time – eight days and fourteen hours as of the time of this article’s writing – they will be launching a high altitude balloon from the Nevada Desert that will ascend into Earth’s orbit. When and where the balloon pops is the subject of the social media campaign they are conducting, and people are encouraged to place bets by selecting the specific altitude and grid references where it will happen.
The person who is closest will win the ultimate prize: a flight aboard the companies new zero gravity SXC Lynx Spacecraft! Much like Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, this aerospace ship is a prototype that is intended to serve as the mainstay for the company’s commercial space flight fleet in the near future. But unlike the SS2, this vehicle is capable of performing its own take offs as well as landing.
Also relying on a rocket engine, but weighing considerably less than the SS2, the plane has successfully demonstrated the ability to perform vertical takeoffs from a runway, achieve a maximum speed of over mach 2.9, and achieve a suborbital ceiling 100 km above sea level. The entire flight will last only a few minutes, and aside from the pilot only one person will be on board… the winner!
To enter, simply go to space.klm.com and place your bets on where and how high the balloon will go. Then join me, Raven, and anyone else looking for a free trip to space in waiting with baited breath for the official draw on April 22nd. I wish everyone who enters luck, but you’ll forgive me if I secretly want this all to myself! Go orbital balloon, hit my grid spot, pleaaaase! Daddy needs a flight into space!
And of course, be sure to check out this promotional video: