The Big Bang Theory took the Comic-Con fan experience to new heights on Friday — quite literally. During the panel for the hit CBS sitcom at the San Diego Convention Center, one very lucky fan won a flight into space. Inspired by Howard's (Simon Helberg) season finale launch towards the International Space Station, the Warner Bros. Television marketing team arranged for the winner to get a free trip on a spacecraft that will make a suborbital trip beyond the earth's atmosphere. "I think you could call this The Big Bang Theory: The Home Game," executive producer Bill Prady told TV Guide Magazine shortly after the panel. "This is an extension of the spirit of the guys on our show."
The winner, 35-year-old stay-at-home mom Mercedes Becerra of Paso Robles, California, will get the chance to ride the Lynx, a piloted, two-person liquid rocket powered spacecraft developed by XCOR, a private aerospace technology company. Former NASA pilot Richard Searfoss, now XCOR's chief test pilot, was on hand to present the prize to Becerra, who won from a random drawing of attendees who had asked a question of the panel. (She had asked Kaley Cuoco about the difference between kissing costars Johnny Galecki and Kunal Nayyar on screen; Cuoco gave a diplomatically non-committal answer.) A recreational flight beyond the atmosphere is still not commonplace, but folks who have about $100,000 to shell out can take the adventure as well.
"This is my first time at Comic-Con and I really did it up," said a stunned-but-overjoyed Becerra, who was thrilled just to be meeting the cast. "I'm definitely taking a camera and I am probably going to take one of my daughter's toys so she can say it went up into space." She expects to make the trip sometime in 2013, after getting in the top physical shape that the flight requires.
"It's an amazing world that we are now living in where this is possible as a recreational activity," said Mayim Bialik, who plays Amy. "Watching that [promotional] video [for the Lynx] when they said how the sky goes black when you're up there, I got a nerd chill and I got all emotional."
Costar Melissa Rauch (Bernadette) got chills for an entirely different reason. "I'm very excited for Mercedes to have space ice cream," Rauch joked. "For some reason that's all I'm focusing on. That was the first thing I asked her. She looked at me like, 'I'm going to space, why are you asking me about dehydrated dairy products?'"
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