30 S'poreans vie to fly above Earth

30 S'poreans vie to fly above Earth

SINGAPORE- Thirty applicants have been shortlisted for the chance to become the first Singaporean to pilot a vessel near space.

The number of applicants will be progressively whittled down, with up to three finalists announced by June next year and the pilot announced in January 2015, one of the project's organisers has said.

The chosen Singaporean will be launched from the island on National Day, Aug 9, 2015, according to plans unveiled in February by the Science Centre Board, the Singapore Space and Technology Association and local technology firm IN.Genius.

The exact location is yet to be finalised.

The adventurer - who must be Singapore-born and hold a pilot's licence - will fly more than 20km above sea level, about twice the height of commercial planes' cruising altitude but well short of the 100km boundary above sea level that a person has to cross to become an astronaut.

The 20km mark is the point above which, people cannot survive without pressure suits or a pressurised cabin.

The vessel to be used will be a helium stratospheric balloon.

In a challenge in October last year, Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner flew 39km above Earth in such an advanced, high-altitude balloon before free-falling in a pressure suit.

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