Tucson father aiming for stars

His video entry is one of 20 finalists in contest for suborbital space trip
2012-02-24T00:00:00Z 2012-02-24T06:24:17Z Tucson father aiming for starsCarol Ann Alaimo Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 24, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Baby needs a Space Daddy.

That's the buzz these days at Gregory Schneider's house since the local law student - a father of two with a third child on the way - became one of 20 finalists in a contest that's out of this world.

The "Space Race" contest is one of the 50th anniversary events for the famed Space Needle in Seattle.

The grand prize, said to be worth $110,000, is a "suborbital spaceflight" 62 miles above Earth, provided by Space Adventures Ltd., a Virginia-based space tourism firm.

Schneider, 27, who attends the University of Arizona, made it this far by submitting a homemade video clip explaining why he wants to make the trip.

The footage features him and his kids - son Jude, who's nearly 3, and daughter Emiko, nearly 7 - building a makeshift rocket in their backyard out of cardboard boxes and bedsheets.

Now voting switches from the contest organizers to Facebook, where the public can weigh in on the videos.

The top five vote-getters will fly to Seattle in April to compete in unspecified "physical challenges," that determine the top winner, the contest website says.

Schneider, who has lived in Tucson since 2006, said he's been intrigued by space travel since childhood.

"I've always been a sci-fi geek, 'Star Trek,' 'Star Wars.' Now I'm reading more serious stuff, like (late astronomer) Carl Sagan, who talks about the notion of a fundamental, almost instinctual urge to understand what's out there.

"To be one of the first group of human beings in history to go up there and dip into that cosmic ocean - to me that's the opportunity of a lifetime."

Schneider said his youngsters are thrilled for him. His pregnant wife, not so much.

"She's excited for me, but she's not so sure she wants to see me go up in a rocket. Which I think is understandable," he said of spouse Lindsay Schneider, 26, who is due in June.

If he wins and makes it into space, he plans to take along UA paraphernalia and photos of his family.

If he doesn't, he said, it will be a teachable moment for the kids.

"I want to show them it's OK to be disappointed if you lose," he said, "but it's important to show a certain amount of grace."

Contact reporter Carol Ann Alaimo at calaimo@azstarnet.com or at 573-4138.

You can Vote

To vote, go to http://apps.facebook.com/spaceracecompetition/entries/122?ref=nf to see the video clip that made Gregory Schneider a finalist for a trip into space.

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