Axe hosts race to space

Student competes for one-day trip to Earth’s low orbit

Steven Humphries (above) is doing well in the contest, the winners of which will undergo space training in Florida.
Steven Humphries (above) is doing well in the contest, the winners of which will undergo space training in Florida.
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If Steven Humphries plays his cards right, he could soon be off to outer space.

Humphries, a Queen’s student, registered to be a part of Axe Apollo space competition last Monday after seeing a Superbowl commercial. He’s hoping to win a ticket on a commercial flight 103 km from Earth as early as 2014.

Axe will offer 22 tickets to contestants from over 60 countries worldwide, but only two from Canada will make it to the final round in Florida.

The top two competitors with the most votes on the website — sponsored by the Axe brand — will be chosen to compete with each other at the Axe Apollo Space Camp in Florida, where they will undergo space training.

The training will consist of a flight test on an L-39 Albatross Mk II Jet, which travels twice the speed of sound. Zero gravity testing and gravity resistance training will also be a part of the training process.

“I kind of thought that my days were numbered to have my opportunity like this,” Humphries, ArtSci ’12 said.

Humphries was 18th overall in Canada on Friday, but has since dropped to 21st place.

After registering on Monday, Humphries shared the voting page with his teammates on the Queen’s rugby team, which has since spread throughout the Queen’s community, he said.

“Everybody just invited their friends and enough people rallied behind it,” he said. “I would get upwards of 40 to 50 notifications a day and it just spiraled like that.”

His page on the Axe Apollo website has also been endorsed by Principal Woolf on Twitter.

At the time the Journal went to print, Humphries estimated he had approximately 700 votes total, a relatively high amount given he entered the competition almost a month after voting began.

The top ten competitors are estimated to have reached over the 1,000 vote mark, Humphries said.

The commercial flights cost approximately $100,000 each to reserve, and will be made possible by Space Expedition Corporation (SXC). If the flight isn’t scheduled before 2017, the winners will be awarded $85,000 in compensation.

Humphries has always had an interest in space, although he chose to pursue political studies at Queen’s.

“[When I was younger] it hit me how wide the scope of the universe is and how little we understand about it,” Humphries said. “It was trying to justify where we are on Earth based on how infinite the universe might actually be.”

But after discovering he wasn’t good at math or sciences in high school, Humphries decided to try applying his interested in other ways.

“I decided to pursue a politics [degree],” he said. “I wanted to see how I could affect space and the future in terms of space travel. If I can’t do it in terms of math or sciences I would do it through policy.”

Queen’s student Eric Larlee, ArtSci ’14, is also a contestant. He said the last time he checked, he placed 93rd overall in Canada.

Voting closes August 31.

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