SpaceX flight winner gives ticket to friend because he exceeded weight limit | SpaceX

A Florida man who won a seat on the first space tourism flight operated by Elon Musk and SpaceX gave his ticket to a friend because he was too heavy to take off.

Kyle Hippchen, 43 and a Florida-based captain for Delta’s regional carrier Endeavor Air, won a ticket to be on the SpaceX flight last September.

However, he quickly discovered that he exceeded SpaceX’s 250-pound weight limit. As a result, he gave his ticket to his college roommate, Chris Sembroski, a 42-year-old data engineer from Everett, Washington.

While attending Embry-Riddle Aeronautical College, Hippchen and Sembroski participated in a space advocacy group that traveled to Washington to promote space travel. They also attended NASA shuttle launches.

Last year, Jared Isaacman, the founder of Shift4 Payments, won a seat on the first SpaceX flight to carry tourists.

Hippchen bought $600 worth of entries while Sembroski paid over $50. There were more than 72,000 entries in the draw, which was conducted last February, with proceeds going to a children’s hospital.

According to the contest’s fine print, Winter had to be under 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds. Hippchen was 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighed 330 pounds.

When he started receiving emails asking for personal information, including his weight and height, he assumed he was one of many finalists. It was only after a series of emails and calls that he learned he had indeed won the seat.

“I was trying to figure out how I could lose 80 pounds in six months, which, I mean, it’s possible but it’s not the healthiest thing in the world to do,” Hippchen said.

He decided to give his ticket to Sembroski, who, in gratitude, offered to take personal items into space for Hippchen. Items included his high school and college rings, his airline captain’s epaulettes, and a great-uncle’s World War I Purple Heart.

Before entering SpaceX’s Dragon capsule, Sembroski used a phone atop the launch tower to make a call. He called Hippchen and told him he was forever grateful.

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