He's a rocket lawyer!

A few months ago, we wrote about a University of Arizona 3L competing in a “Space Race” commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Seattle Space Needle. The grand prize: a trip to outer space.

The student, 27-year-old Gregory Schneider, made it to the final round of the contest, which involved climbing the Space Needle’s antenna and other high-altitude competitions. Yesterday, the “Space Race” winner was announced. We caught up with Gregory and talked to him about his experiences in the contest.

So, did he win? Let’s find out (and see some pictures, duh!)….

Dude, you are getting a Dell going into space! Yesterday, the Seattle Times reported that Gregory won the contest.

Congratulations, Space Dude! Does going into space count as “employed upon graduation”?

In some ways, the final round of the competition sounds surprisingly intense. From the Seattle Times:

Five contestants were selected to fly out to Seattle for a final week of competition, and only two, Schneider, from Tucson, Ariz., and Sara Cook, 24, from Washington, D.C., remained after a round of gimmicky games at the Museum of Flight on Tuesday.

The two finalists started Wednesday morning on the roof of the Space Needle, racing to climb the antenna to determine who would go first in the final competition. Schneider’s climb time was faster, and he chose to go first in the next activity.

After Schneider and Cook climbed back down to the observation deck, they were fitted for harnesses and crawled out to the halo — the outer perimeter — of the Space Needle.

As they walked around the edge, they were asked 10 space-trivia questions posted on the wall of the Needle. Time penalties were given for each wrong answer.

Schneider won by answering eight of the questions correctly.

Boo Ya! Nothing prepares you better for answering trivia questions while suspended several hundred feet in the air quite like the pressure of studying for law school exams.

When we spoke with Gregory this morning, he was still in Seattle. He finished his last law school exam a week ago today, and he flew out for the competition just a few days later. He will walk down the graduation aisle a few days from now.

“It’s pretty unbelievable,” the soft-spoken Gregory told us. “I’m so excited. I’m still just trying to wrap my head around this, that it’s happening, that it’s real”

Gregory said that when he was a kid, he was quite fascinated by the stars. “I remember the first time my dad took me to the planatarium — and I was just floored.” He lost track of his hobby for a while, but last year he bought his first serious telescope and also delved into reading some Carl Sagan, which rekindled his interest in space.

As his entry video showed, Gregory’s children are very important to him. How did they react to his victory? Gregory told us that his seven-year-old daughter is impressed, as well as a little shocked that her daddy won the prize. His three-year-old son is mostly upset that he can’t go along; Gregory had to assure his son that “I would do everything I could to get him his own rocketship — and it would be a big one.”

Unfortunately, it will still be quite a while until Gregory gets to go into space. The craft is still being built, so it will be a year or two until it’s ready. The flight, when it happens, will last about 20 minutes. Gregory told us that the craft, amazingly enough, doesn’t have an actual pilot. It’s somehow completely automated (although there will be one other passenger on board with him).

Maybe it’s okay that Gregory Schneider will be sticking around Earth for a while. Mrs. Schneider (who, it’s obvious from conversation, Gregory clearly adores) is pregnant; the Schneiders are expecting their third child in June. Additionally, Gregory Schneider will be starting a two-year clerkship with Chief Judge Joseph Howard of the Arizona Court of Appeals.

All in all, it’s been a busy couple of weeks for the Schneider family. We send Gregory our hearty congratulations.

For the rest of our readers, click through for some photos from the competition in Seattle…


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