Veteran NASA astronaut Mike Massimino (right) poses for a photo with Big Bang Theory actor Simon Helberg and another actor during a break from filming the season finale of CBS' Big Bang Theory
Credit: Mike Massimino (via Twitter as @Astro_Mike)
This story was updated at 10:24 p.m. ET.
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 — today at the Comic-Con festivities in San Diego, according to news reports.
While fans lined up earlier today (July 13) for a panel discussion with the stars of "The Big Bang Theory," silver envelopes were given out, with one holding a ticket for a free suborbital ride aboard a space plane being developed by Mojave, Calif.-based rocket builder 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 officials announced via Twitter.
Becerra, of Paso Robles, Calif., won a trip on XCOR's Lynx space plane, which the company plans to begin flying in 2013. Currently, tickets for the suborbital ride sell for $95,000 per person.
XCOR test pilot Rick Searfoss, a former NASA astronaut, appeared on stage to initially offer the suborbital joy ride to one of the show's actors, Simon Helberg, who declined the opportunity, according to the Associated Press. Helberg's character on the show, Howard Wolowitz, launches into space in the last episode of the fifth and most recent season.
"The idea that one man’s journey into space had the power to bond his friends together was somehow deeply touching," said the show's co-creator/executive producer Chuck Lorre, in a statement. "And now, everyone — cast, crew and the millions of fans of the show — can gather together and experience that same wonderful bond when we watch one lucky fan take an actual trip into space, courtesy of XCOR. We are so proud and grateful to be part of this adventure: 'The Big Bang Theory,' boldly going where no sitcom has gone before!" [Photos of XCOR's Lynx Space Plane]
Officials with Warner Bros. Television Group arranged the space trip giveaway as a special treat for "Big Bang Theory" fans, studio officials said.
"We wanted to deliver something special and, as fans ourselves, we thought taking a trip to space like Howard Wolowitz would be amazing and literally out of this world," said Lisa Gregorian, Chief Marketing Officer, Warner Bros. Television Group.
The most recent season of "Big Bang Theory" also featured some major guest stars from science fiction and science fact. Actor Leonard Nimoy reprised his role as "Star Trek's" Spock (actually the voice of a Spock action figure) in one episode, with famed physicist Stephen Hawking and NASA astronaut Mike Massimino also making guest appearances.
Massimino is one of the astronauts Wolowitz launches into space with in the show's fifth season finale.
XCOR's suborbital space plane is designed to eventually fly a pilot and passenger to the upper reaches of the atmosphere, to altitudes up to and exceeding 62 miles (100 kilometers). XCOR is one of several companies developing suborbital vehicles for commercial space tourist flights.
"We couldn’t be more excited to be working with Warner Bros. Television and 'Big Bang Theory' to give this amazing opportunity to one of the show’s biggest fans,” said XCOR's CEO Andrew Nelson, adding that the partnership tied in well with the company's vision and goals. "As fans of the 'Big Bang Theory' ourselves, how could we not say 'yes' when we got the call?"
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.