U. S. Commercial Space Looks for a Few Well Groomed Men

Can the drama of a group stroll along the Fiscal Cliff compare with the passion for space travel that reverberated through the 1960s?

Unilever, a U. K. based global retailer of consumer goods ranging from Hellman's mayonnaise to Popsicles, is testing the waters with a space themed promotional campaign for its AXE men's personal care line of soap, deodorant, gels and cologne.

Apollo 11's Buzz Aldrin salutes. Photo Credit: NASA Photo.

Through a competition, the company's promotional AXE Apollo Space Academy will select 22 men and women for a seat aboard an XCOR Aerospace Lynx suborbital spacecraft operated by the Space Expedition Corp (SEC).

An inaugural winner will be selected from a drawing that follows the Feb. 3 Super Bowl, which will feature a 30 second advertisement for the Lynx flight. The remainder will come from a pool of 100 or so others selected from a year-long, 60-nation campaign and invited to the AXE Apollo Space Academy in Orlando, Fla., in December, for a final round of evaluation.

"Think you got the stomach for it?" taunts an early advertisement. "Join the AXE space academy now. Leave a man. Come home a hero."

Another promotion features a fireman risking flames in a collapsing high rise to rescue a beautiful young woman. Escorted to safety, she's quickly distracted by a space suited astronaut and runs to his arms.

"Nothing beats an astronaut," the fast paced advertisement concludes. "Ever."

Getting to the two seat cockpit of the shuttle-like Lynx will be a bit like a NASA astronaut selection process -- lots of applicants for a coveted opportunity for a few to experience an out of this world thrill.

Prospective flyers must go online, www.AXEApollo.com, to create a profile that explains their passion and hopefully impress those who read it and vote. Applicants must be at least 18 to apply.

SEC is looking toward 2014 to begin passenger flights.

The website deadline for the post Super Bowl drawing and the chance for one of the 22 to skip the rest of the competition and the Orlando space camp is Feb. 3 at 11:59:59, PST.

"Are you ready to make history," asks Buzz Aldrin, the soon to be 83-year-old former NASA Apollo 11 Lunar Module pilot who signed on with AXE Apollo to launch the promotion. "Now you, too, can become a member of the privileged group and experience everything I have."

At the Orlando academy, top applicants will board an L-39 Albatross jet trainer for a flight that reaches Mach 2. After breaking the sound barrier, contestants will participate in a Zero Gravity training flight and strap into a 6G centrifuge for a taste of the re-entry experience.

The prevailing 22 applicants can look forward to a kick in the pants runway take off and ascent to 103 kilometers in the XCOR Lynx, or just to the fringes of space. Just below the flight summit, the Lynx will begin to maneuver through a parabolic arc that will provide several seconds of weightless, and an enviable view.

Applicants and winners are required to provide their names, likeness and photographs for promotional purposes without further compensation. Then, there are the liability waivers to serve as a notice of the risk.

That's part of commercial space.

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