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Drink Beer, Win a Trip to Space

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An artist's rendition of SpaceShipTwo as it journeys in suborbital space above Earth. Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic, unveiled a 1/16th scale model of the company's two-piece space launch vehicle in New York City on Jan. 23, 2008. The finished vehicle is expected to carry up to eight astronauts into space.
(Image: © Virgin Galactic/sky26)

The companybehind the dark Irish beer Guinness will give loyal drinkers a taste of spacealong with their stout, but only if they win new contest.

Guinnesshas reserved a seat aboard a suborbital VirginGalactic spaceliner as one of three experience prizes in an online contesthonoring the 250th birthday of the beer?s brewery this year.

Founded byBritish billionaire Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Galactic is a commercial spacetourism company that plans to launch passengers on $200,000 trips to suborbitalspace using a fleet of SpaceShipTwo spacecraft. The spaceliners are designed tobe launched from the air by a massive WhiteKnightTwomothership and send two pilots and six passengers on a weightless joyride.

VirginGalactic currently plans to launch and land space tourist flights from a terminal atSpaceport America in New Mexico - which began construction earlier this month -as well as from a spaceport in Kiruna, Sweden. The first WhiteKnightTwo carrier ship "Eve" has been flying a series of test flights this year.

Guinnessofficials said their space trip contest runs through Sept. 24 and promised a thrillingride for the winner.

The launch will catapult passengers beyond Earth?satmosphere at nearly 2,500 mph (4,023 km/ph) - three times the speed of sound -to a point about 68 miles (109 km) above the planet, Guinnessofficials said. Once in space, passengers will have a view of the blackness of space and unbrokenvistas of the Earth for 1,000 miles (1,609 km) in every direction beforere-entering the atmosphere and gliding back to its home port, they added.

The beercompany announced the new contest on Wednesday to commemorate founder ArthurGuinness?s signing of the 9,000-year lease on the St. James?s Gate brewery inDublin, Ireland. Some 250 events are planned in participating countries aroundthe world. They are open to adults of legal drinking age in their respectivecountries.

?Since1759, Arthur Guinness and the Guinness brand have been behind some remarkableand hugely momentous achievements,? Guinness officials said in a statement. ?Tocontinue this legacy and as part of the 250 celebrations, Guinness is givingsomething back to Guinness supporters around the world by offering the chanceto win one of these three remarkable Guinness experiences.?

The twoother prizes include an undersea trip to a Guinness bar 229 feet (70 meters)below the ocean?s surface near the Lofoten Islands in Norway, as well as aprivate live studio performance by the band The Black Eye Peas.

VirginGalactic?s carrier ships and spacecraft are being built by the California-basedcompany Scaled Composites. The new vehicles build on the firm?s SpaceShipOneand WhiteKnight vehicles that won the $10 million Ansari X Prize in 2004.

For moreinformation on the Guinness online contest visit: www.guinness.com.

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