Axe Apollo Space Academy

The final round of Axe’s space program starts this week where the winner will fly to space. Get to know some of the Eastern European contenders!

When it comes to space, Russians were first in a lot of things:
First man in space? Russian Yuri Gagarin
First woman in space? Russian Valentina Tereshkova
First space walk? Russian Alexey Leonov

The Americans quickly followed suit, but through the USSR’s Interkosmos program many Eastern Europeans could fly into space. Czechoslovak Vladimír Remek was the first astronaut from a country other than the Soviet Union or the United States to do that. As you can see below, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Latvia, Poland and Romania all sent people to space:

cosmonauts_country_map

Astronauts by nation map (Source)

Now Eastern Europeans could be among the first people to win a trip to space! AXE will send 22 people into space in 2014. The final 22 will be selected in the “Global Space Camp” in Orlando, Florida this December. The winners will fly in this spaceship:

lynx-telescope-xcor

Credit: XCOR Aerospace

It carries only two people, the pilot and one winner at a time. It is going to reach the Kármán line (the boundary between the Earth’s atmosphere and outer space at ~100 km) in under 5 minutes where the winner will spend a couple of minutes in weightlessness, then return to Earth. The whole thing takes less than an hour, here’s a picture about it:

lynx-mk-II-flight-profile

Credit: XCOR Aerospace

So this is not the orbital space flight that we think of when we hear “space tourism”. Dennis Tito, Mark Shuttleworth, Charles Simonyi (who did this twice) and the others spent around 10-15 days up there, orbiting Earth. Still, Axe’s planned suborbital flight will be an awesome experience for the winners with everything one could ask for: weightlessness, view of the starfield and the curved Earth below.

The initial tests included a photo contest, writing an essay, facebook voting and a series of Axe Space parties with various tasks. The finals of the region were held in Sziget festival this summer. The bests from 6 countries were chosen based on their perfomance in space and AXE related tests, physical tests and an essay. The 6 winners of this region (one each from Bosnia, Croatia, Hungary, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia) will travel to Orlando, Florida, where the final winners will be selected. We managed to contact some of them and asked them a couple of questions.

axe_easteu_winners

Robin Polden (Czech Republic), Juhos Norbert (Hungary), Albin Brkić (Bosnia), Goran Vugrinec (Croatia), Borja Jelić (Slovenia), Robert Vokal (Slovakia)

Name: Juhos Norbert
Age: 27
Where do you live? Budapest, Hungary
What do you do?
I’m studying at the BUDAPEST UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY AND ECONOMICS
Why did you apply to Axe Apollo Space Academy?
Because this is my childhood dream. When I was 10 years old, I decided to be a pilot, later I started to be interested in space, but being astronaut was just a dream. I couldn’t believe that one day it could be true.
How do you prepare?
I learned a lot about space physics, and almost every day I’m coaching.
What was the hardest part so far?
To win the national final. It was really not easy.
What went easier than expected for you so far?
Maybe the essay, because I was afraid of that, how I would express myself in  English, but it’s gone well, thank God J
When did you become interested in space?
When I was about 16-17. But mostly the airplanes interested me really. During the university I started to deal with space seriously (space dynamic mostly)
Who is your favourite astronaut?
Buzz Aldrin, because he really a cheerful person, and of course Farkas Bertalan. He’s really friendly.
What is your favourite sci-fi?
I like the most. I don’t have a favourite.
Who would you be, Kirk or Spock?
I’m the real Kirk, because I can lead, and make good decisions, but I can’t obey the rules so seriously… I’m not proud of that …
Which planet would you travel to?
I don’t think about that. Maybe all of them in the solar system. Mostly I want to see a black hole as close as it is safe 🙂
Favourite movie? Iron Man series!!  🙂
Favourite book? Fluid dynamics, every day I wake up and go to sleep with it 🙂
Favourite music? My favrurite band is a Hungarian band: Cante Diem. I like their songs! My favourite is the Summer girl.
What do you do in your free time?
I’m a pilot student, so I am learning to drive an engine powered aircraft, and sailplane. I love them, because they are so different, but really enjoyable!! I would recomment it to everybody!

Name: Albin Brkić
Age: 31
Where do you live? I live in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina
What do you do?
I am doctor of dentistry (doctor of dental medicine)
Why did you apply to Axe Apollo Space Academy?
Just for fun, and now I’m in the finals 😉
How do you prepare?
If I get free time, I go for run, or ride my bike. Nothing special.
What was the hardest part so far?
Getting USA Visa 😉 Just kidding. Well I would say obstacle course in semi-finals.
What went easier than expected for you so far?
Overall experience in Budapest. I thought it would be harder. In the end it was all fun and games 😉
When did you become interested in space?
Probably when I first watched the Star Trek series.
Who is your favourite astronaut?
Valentina Tereshkova (first woman in space)
What is your favourite sci-fi?
Star Trek Voyager
Who would you be, Kirk or Spock?
Kirk
Which planet would you travel to?
Saturn
Favourite movie?
Fight Club
Favourite book?
Weaveworld (Clive Barker)
Favourite music?
Jazz
What do you do in your free time?
Photography

Name: Robert Vokal
Age: 26
Where do you live? Bratislava, Slovakia
What do you do? IT Project manager in a bank
Why did you apply to Axe Apollo Space Academy?
I love life, I love adrenaline, I love science, I love flying, and I love AXE and I love space, this is the best chance so far to get there.
How do you prepare?
Bicycle, Workouts, Running, Swimming, IQ and reflex tests, Flying simulators, theoretical preparation, everything I can do
What was the hardest part so far?
Obstacle course on Sziget, I could have prepared more
What went easier than expected for you so far?
Pressure chamber, I was not sure how I would react, but I remained in good levels during the whole time
When did you become interested in space?
After I was pretty good in flying classic flight simulators on PC, I came across the idea to try space simulator, and found one open source on the Internet (Orbiter Space Simulator). It was no fighting, but real physics and so I started to fly and learn the orbital mechanics and areas of aeronautics which are necessary to succeed
Who is your favourite astronaut?
Right now, probably Buzz Aldrin, he announced Axe Apollo 🙂
What is your favourite sci-fi?
2001: A Space Odyssey
Who would you be, Kirk or Spock?
Never thought about it, but probably Kirk
Which planet would you travel to?
All of them, but if I have to choose, either Jupiter because of its moons, or Saturn , because of its rings.
Favourite movie?
It has used to be Independence Day, but now Gravity and also After Earth were great
Favourite book?
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Favourite music?
Gangstarr, DJ Premier, KRS One, Nas, Looptroop Rockers, Nneka, and other hiphop, soul, jazz, raggae, dancahall
What do you do in your free time?
Paragliding, scuba diving, skydiving, hiking, and other exciting tours or experiences, check out the video for Axe 🙂

So what’s in Florida?
More rigorous tests than ever before, including test flights in fighter jets, Zero-G flight and centrifuges among others. Representatives from over 60 countries, only 22 slots for the space trip. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for these guys!

About the author

János Gömöri

János lives in Budapest. He is interested in music, history, coding and linguistics.

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