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Mar 23, 2012 11:29 AM

Tucson man a finalist in a race to space

TUCSON - Only 500 people have been lucky enough to see the Earth from outer space. Most of them are trained astronauts.

But now private citizens are enjoying that once in a lifetime experience, and a local law student may soon join that exclusive club.

Fifty-thousand people entered the Space Needle's Space Race 2012, hoping to win a trip into space, and one of the five finalists lives in Tucson.

Gregory Schneider is a law student at the University of Arizona. He's a married father of two with another child on the way, and he's captivated by space.

Schneider is one of five finalists in the online competition to win a sub-orbital flight into space with Space Adventures.

"A one in five chance to go into space? I don't know if the people at NASA even have that good of an opportunity!" said Schneider.

Schneider was one of 1,000 entrants selected at random to produce a video explaining why they wanted to go into space.

"I want to go into space to inspire my children to turn their dreams into reality," Schneider said in his video entry.

His two children got starring roles in the video, which was posted online and voted on by the public.
"I finished in 1st place," said Schneider. That's how he ended up in the final five.

In May, Schneider and the other lucky four will fly to Seattle to compete for a once in a life time opportunity to experience weightlessness, 62 miles above the earth's surface.

Schneider can only guess on how the winner will be decided. "I'm guessing somewhere between Survivor and The Amazing Race." Schneider told News 4 Tucson.

The amateur astronomer admits he's a little nervous, but says he's not scared because the company providing this opportunity knows a crash would be bad for business.

"So they have every incentive to make it as safe as humanly possible, so that gives me some comfort," said Schneider.

Schneider says the winner will blast off sometime next year.

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