Friday the 13th proved to be lucky for at least one fan of the popular TV sitcom "The Big Bang Theory." The hit CBS sitcom gave away a high-flying prize — a free trip to space — at the Comic-Con festivities in San Diego.
While fans lined up for a panel discussion with the stars of "The Big Bang Theory," silver envelopes were given out. One of those envelopes held a golden ticket for a free suborbital ride aboard a space plane being developed by Mojave, Calif.-based XCOR Aerospace.
"With our friends @BigBang_CBS, just gave a lucky fan a Lynx flight! Congrats Mercedes Becerra, you're going to spaaaaaace! #WBSDCC," XCOR Aerospace announced via Twitter. Becerra was identified as a resident of Paso Robles, Calif.
Here's how it all went down: XCOR test pilot Rick Searfoss, a former NASA astronaut, appeared on stage to offer the suborbital ride to one of the show's actors, Simon Helberg, who declined the opportunity. Helberg's character on the show, Caltech engineer Howard Wolowitz, was launched into space in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft in the last episode of the fifth and most recent season.
The TV series' co-creator and executive producer, Chuck Lorre, then suggested that the ride be given instead to the holder of the golden ticket.
"We are so proud and grateful to be part of this adventure," Lorre said later in a news release issued by XCOR and Warner Bros. Television. "The Big Bang Theory, boldly going where no sitcom has gone before!"
XCOR's suborbital space plane, called Lynx, is designed to carry a pilot and passenger to the upper reaches of the atmosphere — and eventually to altitudes exceeding 62 miles (100 kilometers), the internationally accepted boundary of outer space. XCOR is one of several companies developing suborbital vehicles for commercial space tourist flights.
The two-seater Lynx will be able to take off and land on a conventional airport runway, and the reusable space plane will be capable of making four flights per day, company officials have said.
XCOR is aiming to begin space tourist flights aboard Lynx in 2013. Currently, tickets for the suborbital ride sell for $95,000 per person.