It looks like we're in the midst of a space race of a different sort, with no less than three recent contests promising to take would-be space cadets into varying degrees of orbit for free, although it seems that the winners may be in for more than a case of space sickness. Our cautionary tale comes courtesy of Oracle and Space Adventures, who awarded a suborbital spaceflight to one lucky winner, Brian Emmett, only to have him find out he'd have to pay taxes on the $138,000 value of the round-trip flight, forcing him to give up his seat in favor of someone with deeper pockets. While its potential tax burden is unclear, Microsoft is forging ahead with its "Vanishing Point" space contest, set to announce the winner tomorrow, who'll also get a taste of some suborbital action. Those looking to hitch a ride on the cheap aren't entirely out of luck just yet, however, with New Scientist and Audi today announcing their own contest that'll run through April 30th. To enter, you just have to tell 'em what you think is the world's best patented invention, with one lucky winner set to be shot 62 miles above the Earth, decked out in their own personalized suborbital flight suit no less. Those of us on this side of the pond are unfortunately out of luck on this one though, with the contest strictly for U.K. residents only.
Read - Space.com, "No Free Ride to Space for Contest Winners"
Read - The Register, "Microsoft prepares to shoot geek into space"
Read - New Scientist's "Win a trip into space"