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Bellevue native competes for the chance to visit outer space

Lauren Furgason, a Bellevue High School graduate, tells people in a YouTube video she made why she deserves to win the Space Needle
Lauren Furgason, a Bellevue High School graduate, tells people in a YouTube video she made why she deserves to win the Space Needle's Space Race contest, which gives a non-astronaut the chance to see the darkness of space, and the curvature of the Earth.
— image credit: Contributed

Most people only dream of going into outer space.

But 25-year-old Lauren Furgason, a Bellevue native, may actually get a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be an astronaut for a day.

Furgason, a 2004 Bellevue High School graduate who majored in graphic design at University of Washington, is one of five finalists in the Space Needle's national Space Race contest, commemorating the Needle's 50th anniversary.

"I don't want to get up there and make a technological discovery; I want to be that inspirational person who shows that anyone can do it," Furgason said.

People around the county voted for her based on the YouTube video she and the other contestants made. In the short film, each person explains why he or she deserves the Space Race's grand-prize: the opportunity to be one of the first non-astronauts to go on an hour-long trip to see the curvature of Earth and the blackness of space.

The contest is in partnership with Space Adventures, a company that provides commercial space travel for non-astronauts.

While other finalists list becoming an astronaut as a childhood ambition, Furgason took a different approach. She's always been interested in traveling the Earth, rather than the moon. She wants to represent the everyday person, rather than a scientist.

Plus, she's the only Seattle-area native in the competition. She even shares the same birthday as the Space Needle, (April 21) and says in her YouTube video that it's not the only thing she shares with the iconic Seattle structure.

"The needle: a bold design that signified reaching for tomorrow. Me: a bold adventurer, always reaching for what's next," Furgason says in the video, flashing from vintage shots from the birth of the Space Needle at the 1962 World's Fair to shots of herself flying through the air on a trapeze.

Details have yet to be finalized, but in May, Furgason will compete with the other four contestants in a battle of wits and physical challenges for the grand prize. She's staying fit with activities such as the stair climb at Columbia Center in Seattle to achieve her goal of winning the ticket to space.

"This would be the ultimate adventure," she said.

Watch Furgason's YouTube video explaining why she deserves to go to outer-space at http://youtu.be/tjADQkfJv74 and follow her progress at @LaunchLauren.

Gabrielle Nomura can be reached at 425-453-4270.

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