The experiences Stephen Lys gathered during eight months of campaigning for a trip to space were a reward of their own.
© Submitted photo
Stephen Lys, the Saskatchanaut, hangs off the edge of the CN Tower EdgeWalk in Toronto. Lys placed 20th overall in the AXE Apollo space contest and did not advance, but said the experiences he had during his campaign were a reward in themselves.
This is the sentiment Lys, better known to many by his alter-ego the Saskatchanaut, wanted to communicate Sunday, when voting closed on the Axe Apollo space contest he had been campaigning for since January.
He finished 20th overall, in a class of over 17,000 Canadians.
"It started out like, 'Man, it'd be really cool to go to space,'" Lys told the Times-Herald. "But as I went along, I started collecting these experiences. Each, in itself, was a reward."
Lys, a science teacher at Peacock Collegiate, entered the contest with a desire to enter the cosmos — and to use that experience to educate his students about the wonders of space.
Instead, he will be able to teach his students about the value of seizing the day.
"What I want to bring to everybody else is that everyone gets into a routine in life, and it's just the easiest thing," Lys said. "Hopefully I can use this experience to get people up and out of their chairs, and doing something, whatever their thing is."
For his part, the Saskatchanaut spent much of the summer on the road as part of a planned family vacation. His family travelled East, taking Lys' spacefaring outfit along for the ride for a few timely photo opportunities.
One such opportunity saw Lys taking the EdgeWalk on Toronto's CN Tower.
"By then, I was in the, 'let's just do it,' mentality. … That was something I did just because it was there, and if I hadn't done it, I'd be looking back wondering what it would be like," he said.
If I hadn't done it, I'd be looking back wondering what it would be like. Stephen Lys, the Saskatchanaut
Lys admitted that, prior to launching his bid for space, he likely would not have attempted the EdgeWalk.
Through his travels and the media coverage he received over his campaign, Lys said he was also given the chance to meet a lot of people.
"It was neat to talk to people from different places who were interested, excited, or wanted to get involved," he said. "It expanded beyond just my friends, helping me out."
Though Lys believes his experience "lit a spark" under his friends and others who followed him, he said he isn't going to try to carry forward his momentum into the Mars One contest because it's "a little bit lofty."
But he hasn't given up on the dream of space.
"I believe space travel is going to become fairly pedestrian within our generation," he said. "With the amount of progress we've made just in the last ten years with private spacecraft, the price has come down from about $20-million to, maybe, $90,000.
"I still may get my chance, but I don't have $90,000 to drop on it," Lys added. "I have to wait for it. But I think it's going to be doable."