Space flight won, but… – At 150 kilos too heavy for space


Cape Canaveral – Too heavy for weightlessness – Kyle Hippchen (43) has a hard time nibbling on that. The captain flies planes from Delta Air subsidiary Endeavor Air without any problems, but he was not allowed to take off into space.

The reason: the fine print…

First things first: Hippchen took part in a raffle last year for a flight on SpaceX, Elon Musk’s (50) private space company. The proceeds should benefit a children’s hospital.

Kyle bought tickets for $600. 72000 participants hoped for the flight.

Months later he received emails and several phone calls: he had won!



Still disappointed today: Kyle Hippchen in front of disused rockets in the Cape Canaveral Space CenterPhoto: John Raoux/AP

But when he was asked for details about himself and, among other things, his weight, it slowly dawned on him: The huge chance of space is shaky.

The terms and conditions state: The winner had to be under 1.80 meters tall and weigh no more than 250 pounds, approximately 113 kilograms. Kyle Hippchen is exactly 1.80 meters tall – and weighs 330 pounds, almost 150 kilos.

The schedule was tight. SpaceX had to tailor flight suits and capsule seats for each passenger. As an aerospace engineer and pilot, Hippchen knew that seat weight limits were a safety issue and must not be exceeded.


Kyle Hippchen with his friend Chris Sembroski (right), who was allowed to fly into space for him

Kyle Hippchen with his friend Chris Sembroski (right), who was allowed to fly into space for himPhoto: Chris Sembroski/AP

“I’ve been trying to figure out how to lose 80 pounds in six months, which is possible but not exactly healthy,” Hippchen told the AP news agency. But he Decided against it. His chance for space flight – gone for good.

“It hurts too much,” he said. “I’m terribly disappointed. But it is what it is.”

The solution: He gave away his winnings to his friend Chris Sembroski (42). Both were roommates as students.


Chris Sembroski, Sian Proctor, Jared Isaacman and Hayley Arceneaux (from left) flew into space with SpaceX.

Chris Sembroski, Sian Proctor, Jared Isaacman and Hayley Arceneaux (from left) flew into space with SpaceX.Photo: /AP

On September 15, 2021 the time had come. For the first time, four private individuals took off into space in a manned space mission, stayed up for three days, orbited the earth several times and landed unscathed in the Atlantic. One of them was Kyle’s friend Chris Sembroski.

Before the start he called his buddy Hippchen from the starting tower and thanked him. “I’m eternally grateful to him,” says Sembroski.


A SpaceX rocket launches into space on January 13, 2022.  The recording does not show the start of September 2021

A SpaceX rocket launches into space on January 13, 2022. The recording does not show the start of September 2021Photo: Craig Bailey/AP

And although Hippchen could not see the earth from orbit, he also experienced about 10 minutes of weightlessness. He was allowed to fly with friends and family of the space pilots in a special zero-gravity aircraft. “It was great fun,” he says today.

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