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Monday 1 September 2014

Pensioner beats Geldof in Irish space race

Published 17/01/2014 | 02:30

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Anne Sheridan story
A Limerick man is over the moon after signing his contract in his bid to become the first Irishman to reach space ahead of Bob Geldof this year.
Pic: Press 22
Cyril Bennis, originally from Limerick, signed a contract securing him a journey into space. Photo: Press 22

A 65-year-old is over the moon after signing a contract in his bid to become the first Irishman to reach space, ahead of Bob Geldof, this year.

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Cyril Bennis, originally from the Fairgreen in Limerick City, has paid more than €120,000 to realise his childhood dream of reaching space.

Mr Bennis, who is a former Lord Mayor of Stratford-upon-Avon in England, quipped that he has "signed his life away" with the 12-page contract.

The contract places him in the seventh slot to reach space in a Lynx Mark I shuttle, with XCor Aerospace in California, which is offering commercial space travel.

Geldof (62), has been frequently touted to become the first Irishman to reach space, but it is anticipated that he is due to board a later flight on the Lynx Mark II shuttle.

COMPETITION

However Mr Bennis cast off suggestions of any competition with the Boomtown Rats singer and Live Aid organiser, saying: "I think there's enough room in space for the both of us."

He added: "No one knows who's going up first, and it's not really a case about getting there first. Whichever Irish person reaches space first it's going to be an amazing achievement.

"It has been quite an emotional moment to receive the contract to secure my moment in space history and sign it.

"I'm now close to the culmination of a dream that I've worked on for the past 50 years," he said.

"I would never have thought growing up in Limerick that one day I'd reach the high heights of space," he added.

Mr Bennis recalled the visit of astronaut John Glenn who visited his school, CBS Sexton Street, after becoming the first American to orbit the earth in 1962.

But Geldof, who is flying with another private commercial flight company, Space XC, has previously said he would be "proud of being the first Irishman to leave the planet".

"I think there's been less than 300 human beings ever (who) have left the planet or been in space, and I'm one of them, you know," said Geldof.

"I'm also so far the only rock guy. Elvis may have left the building but Bob Geldof will have left the planet," he said in an online video about his space training.

Irish Independent

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