SpaceX raffle winner had to give away ticket to space because he couldn’t ‘drop 80 pounds in six months’

·2-min read
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

The man who gave his raffle ticket for SpaceX’s Inspiration4 rocket to Chris Sembroski was forced to do so because he did not meet the necessary weight requirements to travel himself.

Airline pilot Kyle Hippchen won the ticket last year but, at 5ft10 and 330lbs, he exceeded the 250lb weight limit.

Mr Hippenchen gave the seat to Mr Sembroski, who was his college roommate. “I’m insanely disappointed. But it is what it is”, he said. He revealed the information during a visit to Nasa’s Kennedy Space Centre.


He estimates that, before news broke, fewer than 50 people knew he beat 72,000 other people to win the raffle.

Mr Hippchen purchased $600 worth of entries, while Mr Sembroski only paid $50 – who said that he was “forever grateful” for the gift.

“I was trying to figure how I could drop 80 pounds in six months, which, I mean, it’s possible, but it’s not the most healthy thing in the world to do,” Mr Hippchen said, as reported by the Daily Mail.

“Kyle’s willingness to gift his seat to Chris was an incredible act of generosity”, billionaire Jacob Isaacman, who sponsored the trip, said.


As well as Mr Sembroski and Mr Isaacman, geoscientist Sian Proctor and bone cancer survivor Hayley Arceneaux were also on the trip.

SpaceX’s fully automated Dragon capsule reached an unusually high altitude of 363 miles (585 kilometers) after liftoff, surpassing the International Space Station by 100 miles (160 kilometers).

However, Mr Hippchen’s absence on the trip may have been a blessing in disguise. Following the launch, reports emerged that a malfunctioning toilet caused an alarm midway through the journey.

It was later discovered that a tube came unglued spilling urine onto fans and beneath the floor, according to William Gerstenmaier, a SpaceX vice president who used to work for Nasa.

Mr Gerstenmaier said that the crew apparently “didn’t even notice it”, but such claims were contradicted by earlier statements by Jacob Isaacman, who said he was loath to reveal the “gory details”.

Such a leak could have been a health concern, as urine is mixed with a corrosive compound oxone to eliminate ammonia when in space.

“Luckily, or, on purpose, we chose an aluminium alloy that is very insensitive to corrosion”, Mr Gerstenmaier said.

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