Justin Dowd, a Northeastern University physics undergrad beat out hundreds of thousands of applicants worldwide to win the once-in-a-lifetime ride aboard XCOR Lynx, a first generation rocket-powered aircraft being built by SXC (Space Expedition Curacao). Metro is the first newspaper to offer a reader the opportunity to go into space when it launched its Race For Space competition in March. The prize is valued close to $100,000 according to SXC’s website.
Dowd showed he had the qualifications to be an astronaut by impressing the judging panel with his chalkboard stop-motion video explaining Einstein’s theory of relativity. He is currently training for a 12-mile endurance obstacle course race. After being told he’d won, Dowd told Metro “I’m the luckiest guy in the world, and for about 20 minutes I’ll be the luckiest guy in outer space.” He added that it was an honor to be part of the fist space mission launched by a newspaper. “To say this is a once-in-a-lifetime event is an understatement. This is the first time ever this sort of mission is happening and I am elated to be a part of history.”
Dowd’s training for the trip will be documented by Metro and will include two pre-flight missions in Holland. (The space mission leaves from the SXC facility in Curacao) The training will consist of a mission-tactics course and time in a state-of-the-art space flight simulator. The Desdemona simulator is the first to offer a full range of motion and is capable of generating up to 3.3G. Dowd will also fly with an instructor in an L-39 Albatross jet trainer to get used to high-performance aircraft and wearing a helmet. (Lynx image provided by XCOR)