Moose Jaw science teacher's sights set on space
© Justin Crann
High school science teacher Stephen Lys has a lofty ambition: to visit space.
Moose Jaw science teacher Stephen Lys — who moonlights as aspiring astronaut “the Saskatchanaut” — is closing in on the top 10 of the AXE Apollo Space Academy contest.
“It’s been really good. Support is building slowly,” said Lys. “I’m skirting that 1,000 vote line. The top nine guys are all over 1,000 votes, and once I break that, I will be in the top 10, which will be a great place to be.”
The contest, sponsored by AXE Fragrances, will select the two Canadians who generate the most votes to join representatives from dozens of other countries at space camp in Orlando later this year. One of the two Canadians will then win a trip into the atmosphere.
Lys has been campaigning hard to climb up the ladder, and currently sits in 12th place. People can vote for him here.
“I think I have myself positioned nicely. I’m starting to get word out all over the place ... Every time I gain a rank, people are really excited about it. But I’m cautiously optimistic about that, because I know how far apart the top 10 guys are,” he said.
Lys said that, prior to the vote tallies being hidden, the contest’s first place competitor had over 4,000 votes. He estimates that the top three have at least 8,000 now.
“Getting over 1,000 votes is good. Getting into the top 10 will be good. But now, I’m getting up against some of these guys who are pretty heavy hitters and they’re doing something right,” added Lys. “Hopefully, when I break the top 10, people will start to notice and say, ‘This guy’s got a shot at doing this. We’ve got to get behind him.’”
Still, Lys remains pragmatic in his understanding of the competition and his chances. “I’ll probably need 15,000 to 20,000 votes by the end of this thing, to knock those other guys off the top,” he said. “But I think with momentum, and once people start talking about it and spreading the word, and if the whole province starts getting behind me, I like our odds.”
Lys said that “word is starting to get around,” but that he isn’t yet a “household name” or “water cooler chatter” — which is what he believes he needs to achieve in order to pull off a win.
“I want people to say to each other, ‘Hey, have you seen how the Saskatchanaut is doing? Have you voted yet?’ That’s when this thing really starts to snowball,” he said.