Kyle Fedyk says he has had two dreams since he was a child: to race sprint cars and to become an astronaut.
He has been competing on sprint car circuits in Canada and the U.S. for several years. Now he has set his sights on his other life-long ambition.
Fedyk has registered for the AXE Apollo Space Academy – an online contest sponsored by the Axe body spray company that will give a select few candidates the opportunity to fly into space. But it won't be easy.
The first step was to register. Voting started in the first week of January, but Fedyk didn't hear about the competition until mid-February, which, admittedly, put him behind the 8-ball.
When he signed up, he was one of about 2,500 Canadians entered involved. He has already surged into the top 150.
If he finishes in the top two for Canada, he'll travel to a space camp in Orlando, Florida, in December, where he'll go through a battery of tests, including a medical examination and flights to determine his space-worthiness.
“After you get through all of that stuff, it'll actually come down to another elimination through a panel of experts and judges, and they're going to choose one person from each country who excels at all those tests,” said Fedyk.
He expects that his experience in higher G-force settings from driving sprint cars will be beneficial during those tests.
The one person selected from each country will then return to Florida for a more extensive space camp next year. They'll encounter more stringent medical screening, a series of mental and physical aptitude tests, an evaluation of their teamwork and social skills, and space flight training.
Those who survive the process will be flown 103 kilometres into space with a space tourism company.
“It will take place any time from January 1, 2014, to January 1, 2017, depending on when the space craft has been completed, and has been tested thoroughly enough to actually go into space with passengers, other than the crew members,” said Fedyk.
He said he has wanted to be an astronaut since a school field trip to Saskatchewan Science Centre, when he watched an iMax film on how astronauts trained, were launched into space, and reacted to life outside of Earth's orbit.
“Something they get to do is space walking, and it just enthralled me,” said Fedyk. “I wanted to be an astronaut from that day forward, but I also wanted to be a sprint car driver for a living.”
Fedyk opted to enter the work force, and pursue his sprint car ambitions, rather than go to school and work towards his master's degree in engineering, which he would need to be a full-time astronaut.
As of the afternoon of February 19, Fedyk had less than 100 votes in the competition. A thousand votes would put him in the top 16.
People can only vote once per Facebook account or e-mail address, Fedyk said, so it's important for as many individuals as possible to give him their support. Axe encourages people to vote via Fedyk's Facebook account.
The deadline to vote is in August.