|Lieutenant General Pham Tuan, the first Vietnamese astronaut, talks during a meeting to announce the AXE Apollo Space Academy contest. — VNA/VNS Photo Manh Linh
HCM CITY (VNS)— Viet Nam is one of 63 countries that will compete for a spot to travel to the edge of space in a programme sponsored by Unilever's personal-care product line AXE.
Vietnamese astronaut Pham Tuan, who flew on Russia's Soyuz 37 space mission in 1980, and famed American astronaut Buzz Aldrin are promoting the AXE Apollo Space Academy project.
Each participating country will choose one or two candidates for a total field of 108 contestants. Then, 22 people will be chosen to prepare for the trip, which will take place in early 2014.
Men and women between 18 and 35 years old can apply to take part in the contest at the AXE Apollo Space Academy website (AXEApollo.com). They must write a short essay on why they should be chosen for the trip.
The winners will take individual trips on Lynx space planes, which can accommodate a pilot and one passenger, to an altitude of 62 miles (100 kilometres) during suborbital flights.
"Space travel is the next frontier in the human experience," said Buzz Aldrin, who spoke with Vietnamese media yesterday via online.
Aldrin, 83, who took part in NASA's 1969 Apollo 11 mission, is famous for having walked on the moon.
"I wish I could travel with the 22 winners of the contest," he said, adding that he had many plans in the future, including a book that would be released soon.
The final round of the selection in Viet Nam will be broadcast on television as a reality show at the end of the year.
The judges will include the 66-year-old Pham Tuan and other experts and celebrities. —VNS