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Uncle Sam plays spoilsport in space trip

Los Angeles: Brian Emmett’s childhood fantasy came true when he won a free trip to outer space. But the 31-year-old was crushed when he had to cancel his reservation because of Uncle Sam.

Emmett won his ticket to the stars in a 2005 sweepstakes by Oracle Corporation, in which he answered a series of online questions on Java computer code.

Dream unfulfilled: Brian Emmett
He became an instant celebrity, giving media interviews and appearing on stage at Oracle’s trade show.

For the self-described space buff who has attended space camp and watched shuttle launches from Kennedy Space Centre, it seemed like a chance to become an astronaut on a dime.

Then reality hit. After some number-crunching, Emmett realised he would have to report the $138,000 (Rs 61 lakh) galactic joy ride as income and owe $25,000 (Rs 11 lakh) in taxes.

Unwilling to sink into debt, the software consultant from the San Francisco Bay area gave up his seat.

“There was definitely a period of mourning.

“I was totally crestfallen,” Emmett said.

“Everything you had hoped for as a kid sort of evaporates in front of you.”

Emmett said he has no regrets about turning down his trip and doesn’t blame anyone.

“I was, however briefly, a potential astronaut,” he wrote last fall in a blog entry titled “Clipped Wings”.

Source: Mumbai Mirror
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