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Space

Become the Fifth Space Tourist 119

Posted by kdawson
from the getting-high dept.
MattSparkes writes "There have been four space tourists so far. You could become the fifth — even if you aren't a dot-com millionaire. New Scientist is running a competition to send one person on a sub-orbital flight, 62 miles above the Earth. All you have to do is write 250 words on what the best ever patented invention is. Personally I think it has to be the Levitationarium." Of course if you win you'll probably have to pay the taxes.
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Become the Fifth Space Tourist

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  • by lecithin (745575) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @10:13AM (#17843230)
    Terms and Conditions

    http://www.winatriptospace.co.uk/blogs/patent/tand c.html [winatriptospace.co.uk]

    1. This competition is open to anyone aged 18 or over who is ordinarily resident in the UK except for employees of Reed Business Information Limited, Volkswagen Group United Kingdom Limited or Space Adventures Ltd and their immediate families. For guidance on what 'ordinarily resident' means see

    www.hmrc.gov.uk/manuals/cbtmanual/cbtm10020.htm.
    • by syousef (465911)
      2. You must sell your soul to the lords of IP evil by promoting shitty patents as being good for invention and innovation.
  • Brits Only! (Score:5, Informative)

    by tverbeek (457094) * on Thursday February 01, 2007 @10:13AM (#17843240) Homepage

    Note: This contest is only open to residents of the UK.

    So no need to worry about the IRS demanding a share... just Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs.

    • Re:Brits Only! (Score:5, Informative)

      by julesh (229690) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @10:30AM (#17843512)
      So no need to worry about the IRS demanding a share... just Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs.

      Fortunately for us Brits, prize winnings are tax exempt.
      • by muftak (636261)
        Especially if they are not cash. I'm not sure I believe that story about getting taxed on a prize that isn't cash.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Believe it or not, it is true. If you win a car in a church raffle in the US, you must pay applicable taxes on the prize. Sucks, but it's the truth :(
          • by tompaulco (629533)
            If you win a car in a church raffle in the US, you must pay applicable taxes on the prize.
            At least with a car, there is an MSRP that says what it is worth. Of course, no one in their right mind pays MSRP for a car. Now, for a trip to space, when they value it at umpteen million dollars, where is the comparison to find out what it is really worth? Sure, some millionaire might pay $25 million for it, but how much would the average Joe pay. Or in my case, how much would they have to pay me to get me to go?
            I
            • by tverbeek (457094) *

              At least with a car, there is an MSRP that says what it is worth.

              And with a suborbital space flight, there's a web site [spaceadventures.com] that says what it's worth.

              Sure, some millionaire might pay $25 million for it, but how much would the average Joe pay.

              Um, the average Joe wouldn't pay anything, because he can't afford it. But the price he would pay is {checks web site} $102,000, because they don't offer an "average Joe" discount.

            • I have seen circumstances where a prize winner was forced to sell his prize in order to pay the taxes on it

              So you're saying I should wait for someone else to win, then buy it at a reduced rate when the IRS has them at gunpoint...

              Damn. If only this were being held in the USA.
        • by ari_j (90255)
          Sorry, life's a bitch. If you're on a game show and get to choose between a car and cash, take the cash. Also, as to the IRS not taking any of your winnings, if you're a US citizen and you reside in the UK and win, the IRS is going to come after you, anyhow.
        • by tverbeek (457094) *
          U.S. income tax is not a tax on cash received, but on income. Whether you're paid in dollars, stock options, room and board, sexual favors, or magic beans, they want you to pay tax on the value of that income. If they only taxed income in the form of money, employees would start requesting their pay in the form of gift certificates, merchandise, and other not-money substitutes as loopholes to get around it. That would not only hurt tax revenues, but undermine the dollar as a monetary system, which the fe
          • by muftak (636261)
            If you are getting paid in stock options or goods, then do you have to pay income tax on them again when you sell them? Do you have to pay tax on company perks, like free healthcare, pensions, company phones, etc? I just pay tax on my salary. Also my company gives out some prizes as gift vouchers, so we don't have to pay tax on it. Although we have a tax on watching TV, so it's not all good here.
          • by pjt33 (739471)

            U.S. income tax is not a tax on cash received, but on income.
            That's true of U.K. income tax too. The difference is that in the U.K. prize winnings are not income.
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday February 01, 2007 @10:13AM (#17843246) Journal
    It would probably have to go to Edward L. Van Halen's patent [google.com] awarded in 1987. You see, fig. 1 [google.com] just can't be beat.

    Well, now I'm torn between that and the "The ornamental design for a unisex short with reversible condom, as shown. [google.com]." After all, some of us are so busy with life that we don't have time to stop and take out a condom and put it on when we're about to have sex. For the promiscuous person on the go!
  • Easy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Soporific (595477) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @10:16AM (#17843298)
    The best invention is probably modern plumbing. Before that disease was much more rampant. Not only that, it gave everyone a throne of their own to feel like a king on!

    ~S
    • And it's a tough call- there's so many to choose from.

      Phonograph (Edison)
      Light Bulb (Edison)
      AC Power System (Tesla)
      Remote Control System (Tesla)
      Bladeless Turbine (Tesla)
      Steam Engine (Watt)
      Hot Air Engine (Stirling)

      And so forth...

      Each of the above has had an impact or will have an impact on all of our lives in a very major way. It's a shame, really, that they're limiting the competition to UK citizens.
      • And it's a tough call- there's so many to choose from.
        Pish posh. It's the microprocessor. TI? Intel? I don't know, but the science and tech seemed to move faster than ever since then.
      • by Soporific (595477)
        Good point, I was a bit hasty and skipped over the patented part.

        ~S
      • by xoyoyo (949672) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @11:10AM (#17844212)
        There are, especially as:

        Thomas Savery invented the Steam Engine, Joseph Swan invented the light bulb and Edison only invented half the phonograph, the french having figured out the recording part.

        Perhaps a more useful 250 word essay would be on how the patent system enshrines the myth of the individual genius, when in fact technology moves forwards by little increments.
      • by terrymr (316118)
        It's a shame, really, that they're limiting the competition to UK citizens.

        At least by doing that they don't run the risk of being thrown into jail for violating some obscure US law.
      • by cashman73 (855518)
        Don't forget about sliced bread [wikipedia.org]! Heck, there's even a wikipedia article about it! Or are we talking about the best invention since sliced bread ?

      • by strider44 (650833)
        The transistor (Bell Labs)
    • by syousef (465911)
      "Pipe the sh%t right out of your house" - History of the World Part 1.

      Unless you can provide a link to the patent for plumbing though, I'd try again.
  • by Dr. Eggman (932300) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @10:19AM (#17843336)
    There can be no question that sliced bread is the greatest invention of all time: it is the yardstick by which all inventions have since been measured.
  • Avoiding most taxes (Score:1, Interesting)

    by 1000101 (584896)
    You would think that there would be a way for the winner to avoid having to pay the taxes for winning this trip. I'm not a tax guru by any means, but couldn't the company just temporarily hire the winner as an employee, pay them minimum wage, and then send them on the trip as part of the job description? This way, the winner will only be paying a very small amount of income tax. Monetary winnings are one thing, but I would think there would be loop holes as far as services are concerned. Just a thought.
    • by 91degrees (207121)
      Don't take the comment in the summary too seriously. UK tax law is different. Prizes aren't subject to income tax in the UK.
    • by julesh (229690)
      You would think that there would be a way for the winner to avoid having to pay the taxes for winning this trip.

      There is, and they're doing it. Prizes in the UK are tax exempt; this prize is only available to UK residents.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Too much responsibility.

    I want to be the 47th.

    -Linus

    • Yeah, early adopters often lose out. I don't mind paying extra to be an early adopter of household technology, but when it comes to strapping myself to a rocket I'd like to know that some research has been done. Having said that, if I could win, I would try.
      • by geekoid (135745)
        yeah, manby someday someone will do research in rocketry..hell maybe we could put people in orbit regularly....Then someday, in the far future, we may put a man on the moon.

    • It would be unusual to be among the last 5% of space tourists to fly before they lose one. Not particularly unusual to be in the last 20%. Hence, if you want a routine space visit where it would be unusual if you died, go for 39th or later.
      • ...and more particularly, trying to avoid being in the last 2.5%. (Who cares if you're unusually near the start of a long successful run of flights? But best not to be unusually near the end of a short one!)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The mother of all patented inventions is obviously that "5 years ahead" gesture one the iPhone.
  • It's got to be Microsoft's stunning IsNot patent.
  • ... As an audi owner and general geek I wasn't impressed at all with the fairly recent adverts proclaiming the sheer number of patents that were involved in designing my car. See here [leyton.org] (not my blog).

    Seems like they are really going for this patent thing with this competition, too. I wouldn't be suprised if the winner had to write something about Audi's patents :)
    • by bilbravo (763359)
      "... As an audi owner and general geek I wasn't impressed at all with the fairly recent adverts proclaiming the sheer number of patents that were involved in designing my car. See here (not my blog)."

      You weren't impressed because you realize all of that over-engineering is what makes your car require so much maintenance.

      (note: I also own an Audi, and wouldn't trade it for anything... except maybe an Aston Martin)
      • by DJPenguin (17736)
        "You weren't impressed because you realize all of that over-engineering is what makes your car require so much maintenance."

        Hmm. Let me see - drove out of the garage from new, and doesn't need to go back until it's either 2 years old, or it's done 20k miles. Long life service *grin*

        Although I do see your point. They replaced the handbrake with a switch thing which is presumably linked to a motor. One more thing to fail and when it does, I better have some wheel chocks handy!

        Over-engineered, yes - but doesn'
  • I just know I wouldn't want to be the fifth tourist in space... I mean, thats akin to being the fifth scientist to attempt building an atomic bomb at home. Granted, its been done before by professionals.. but still... its an expensive way to possibly die. Giving all your money to a college student and killing one's self is a lot more beneficial.
  • The Wheel (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Toutatis (652446) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @10:35AM (#17843592)
    It's one of the best inventions of mankind and it was actually patented [newscientist.com].
  • ... as being the first one. I rather wait to be the 400th or so and pay half the price =:cP
    • by aussie_a (778472)
      Half the price of nothing? Well while technically half of nothing is a value (i.e. nothing) I don't think you'll be saving anything by waiting, except your life ;)
  • These sorts of things crop up every few years: poll a bunch of people - prominent scientists, celebrities, politicians, bum-on-the-street, [insert other demographic here] - on what the best invention of the last X years (or ever) was. You can get [google.com] some [time.com] interesting [askmen.com] results [msn.com]. I would be facinated to see a histographic breakdown of the results of this contest among space enthusiasts.
  • by Hoi Polloi (522990) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @10:45AM (#17843752) Journal
    I'd have to say it is "One Click Shopping" [google.com] patented by Amazon.com. Truly, the greatest invention since this one [google.com].
  • Sixth is more like. Simonyi is scheduled to go up before the winner of this prize.
  • If you're in the Boston area, and have $50.00 to spare, you can visit http://www.skyventurenh.com/ [skyventurenh.com] )warning, embedded QT movie) in Nashua, NH, where you can experience body flight in their indoor vertical wind tunnel.

    I'm not related to them in any way, but do plan to visit sometime soon. Thought people around here may be interested in that kind of experience as well.

    • by DrKyle (818035)
      It says you can't be more than 250 pounds, doesn't that rule out like half the US population? That can't be good for marketing.
      • The instructors have to be able to spot you in case you do something dumb that might cause you an injury. It's not as dangerous as skydiving, but you can hurt yourself. Levitationarium is an old design. SkyVenture is more modern and should have much smoother airflow. Check out http://www.bodyflight.net/ [bodyflight.net] for details of wind tunnels around the world. There are quite a number of SkyVenture locations, as well as several other independent wind tunnels designs out there.
    • by dbIII (701233)
      With technology like that there how do you keep the bomb squad away?
  • Yeah ok - but what is there to do there?
  • Truly the most innovative patent of all time.

    Jolyon
  • Gah! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Reality Master 101 (179095) <RealityMaster101 ... NBSDom minus bsd> on Thursday February 01, 2007 @10:57AM (#17843962) Homepage Journal
    I hate marketing. Suborbital is NOT SPACE TOURISM! The other four space tourists entered orbit -- a controlled entry into space, and stayed there. A suborbital trip is a rocket ride. Fun, yes, but not space travel.
    • by xoyoyo (949672)
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C3%A1rm%C3%A1n_line [wikipedia.org]

      It's not an orbital flight, no, but it's definitely outer space. Alan Shepherd only went 50 miles higher.
      • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C3%A1rm%C3%A1n_line It's not an orbital flight, no, but it's definitely outer space. Alan Shepherd only went 50 miles higher.

        That's the boundary of space, but that doesn't mean this is space travel. I define space travel as a controlled entry into space, a controlled stay there, and a controlled return. Throwing a can up high and letting it fall back to Earth is not space travel.

        • by xoyoyo (949672)
          Travelling past the boundary of space == space travel. Not really something you wriggle out of by adding extra conditions.

          If you could throw your can up above the 62 mile mark it would be a space vehicle.

          If I cross the border from Canada to the US to get some smokes from Walmart, the border guards aren't going to let me get away without ID on the grounds that I'm not really in the USA because I'm not planning to stay long.

          I completely agree with you that the prize isn't of the same order as the people who s
    • by Dunbal (464142)
      Suborbital is NOT SPACE TOURISM! ... A suborbital trip is a rocket ride.

            Unless something goes dreadfully wrong. Then it could become an orbital trip after all ;)
      • by drsquare (530038)
        No, even if everything goes wrong, the ship won't have the energy to get into orbit.
        • by Dunbal (464142)
          the ship won't have the energy to get into orbit.


                Exactly, like the other poster said - PARTS of it might just make it to orbit. So look on the bright side, at least your right foot and 2 fingers off your left hand might make it to orbit!
    • As far as I know staying somewhere is not a requirement for tourism. Actually I think that if you stayed it would be immigration.
      • As far as I know staying somewhere is not a requirement for tourism. Actually I think that if you stayed it would be immigration.

        Interesting analogy. So, if you land in London Heathrow Airport temporarily on the way to somewhere else, were you a tourist in London? I'd say most people would say "no", even though you were technically in "London Space". As with outer space, if you just enter temporarily on the way back down to Earth, I would say you weren't a tourist.

        • What analogy?

          It depends on your intention anyway. If you are just traveling somewhere and make a stop at Heathrow Airport in between, most would agree that you're not a tourist.
          If you are however interested in airports and travel from airport to airport just to see them, then yes, you are a tourist.
          • If you are however interested in airports and travel from airport to airport just to see them, then yes, you are a tourist.

            I'd agree with that, but space is not an airport. An airport is a landing spot on the way to another destination. Space IS the destination. Even if I walked out of an airport and saw london for four minutes before a rubber strap whipped me back into the airplane, I don't think I would've been a tourist.

    • by FleaPlus (6935)
      I hate marketing. Suborbital is NOT SPACE TOURISM! The other four space tourists entered orbit -- a controlled entry into space, and stayed there. A suborbital trip is a rocket ride. Fun, yes, but not space travel.

      Although I think it would be in fact technically space tourism, I disagree with the submission's claim that they would be the "fifth space tourist." Note that this is an assertion by the submitter, not the contest itself. In fact, the contest doesn't even make any claims that the winner will be on
  • oooh! (Score:3, Funny)

    by tuxette (731067) * <tuxette@nOSPAM.gmail.com> on Thursday February 01, 2007 @11:30AM (#17844646) Homepage Journal
    I better make sure my Multi-Pass is up to date!
  • There have been 4 visitors to the International Space Station. Mike Melvill and Brian Binnie road SpaceShipOne to space and can also be considered space tourists. Making the total 6.

    Also, from the article, before you read the information on the site itself, it implies you'd go on the same trip as the first four Space Adventures customers to the ISS. This is not so, they will be flying to space onboard the XCOR Xerus single stage RLV. Not 7-10 days in space, but 5 minutes. Not detracting from the 5 minut
    • by luckymutt (996573)
      I have to agree. When presenting it the way they did, I initially thought: "Cool...hang out on the ISS for a couple of days just the the previous 4 "space tourists"" This is more akin to driving all day to get to the beach, slowing down to have a look and then going home. Not that I would turn it down, but it is a bit misleading.
    • by geekoid (135745)
      If a pilot and copilot fly a commercial plane to Vegas, they are not tourists.

      Mike Melvill and Brian Binnie were not tourists. In fact, if I were them it would make me a little angry to be demoted to tourist status.

      • I do see your point. Tourist isn't the correct term. But they were private citizens. Not government sponsored. That was my point.
        The four people who went to the ISS were by no means up there just to float around and look out the window, they only qualified by being able to do scientific research while aboard the ISS.
        Anyone who has gone to space so far have been absolute professionals.
        But the labels haven't been invented for what people who pay to go to space vs who are not paid, and yet again, privately ba
  • If those of us in the US could play, I'd take the jail time to go to space if the IRS came a-knocking. I probably couldn't afford the taxes, so jail time vs going into space....

    In a heart beat I'd go to space....

    but wait...what if I spend a year outside the US and then collect the prize? Kind of like working outside the US and getting paid at the end even though the contract was written up months earlier when I was in the US....that sounds like a way to get around the IRS taxes for this while keeping my f
  • These should be manditory if cell phone service is provided on planes.
    http://totallyabsurd.com/hijackerinjector.htm [totallyabsurd.com]

    That moron talking REALLY LOUD on his cell phone is now drooling in his shirt pocket!
  • Sliced Bread - Otto Frederick Rohwedder of Davenport, Iowa

    More exactly the single load bread slicer.
  • My guess is that the winner will be a software/crypto or business method patent, and that this will be used to fuel the push for such patents in Europe.

  • The lightbulb made round-the-clock commerce possible worldwide. (Thanks Thomas Edison!)

    The integrated circuit made computers smaller, faster, more efficient, and networkable--generating a huge amount of commerce and revenue worldwide. (Thanks Bell Labs!)

    Now, less affluent people can't stand to live under these conditions--they are considered only to be a resource to be exploited by 'the corporate machine' who got to be that way thanks to the light bulb and integrated circuit.
  • I'm susprised that the word "patented" didn't jump out at more people; it seems an arbitrary restriction.

    How long until New Scientist's sister magazine - New Musician - runs a contest where you can win a trip to Las Vegas for writing a 250-word essay on what the best DRM'ed album is?

    - RG>
  • This should have the censored "forks and spoons" patent icon associated with it.
    'Twould be fair play.

Business is a good game -- lots of competition and minimum of rules. You keep score with money. -- Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari

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