SACRAMENTO, CA - Another giant leap for mankind happens next week.
You will have a chance to win a free trip to space. And your chances of winning are much better than hitting the PowerBall jackpot. This global contest hinges on a few people from Sacramento, who've been hired to launch a balloon in northern Nevada.
The helium balloon will lift off just before sunrise at Black Rock Desert, Nev. Video from an onboard camera will be streamed live on the Internet. GPS will show the balloon's altitude and distance down range, as it climbs to the edge of space in about two hours. The helium balloon will expand until it finally bursts.
And that's how you can win a trip to space, by guessing where the balloon will burst and fall back to earth.
The contest is sponsored by the Dutch airline KLM. They've created a website where you can go this week to make your best guess.
ENTER HERE: www.klm.com/space
The balloon vehicle was built and will be launched by JP Aerospace, a small "do-it-yourself" aerospace company in Rancho Cordova. They're gaining a reputation for flying unusual missions to the edge of space, including a chair for a Toshiba television commercial, and a Galaxy smartphone that displayed text messages high above the earth.
"This is kind of the moment where you can say 'I live in the future,'" JP Aerospace President John Powell said. "I live in a time when people can win a ticket to go to space."
The ticket for a ride to space will be on a rocket plane, being built by XCOR in southern California. It is designed to take off from a runway, with one pilot and one passenger, and fly into suborbital space. Passengers will experience a few minutes of weightlessness, before the plane glides back to earth. The round trip will take less than an hour.
The XCOR rocket plane is expected to begin carrying space tourists sometime next year.
To enter the KLM contest for a chance to win a trip to space, check out the website www.klm.com/space. You must enter by Sunday afternoon. The balloon launch is set for early Monday morning, April 22.