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Badgers eager for chance to blast off into space

March 13, 2013 By Kylie Peterson

Photo: Julie Mason in zero gravity simulator

Aspiring space traveler Julie Mason shows her Badger Pride while floating in a zero-gravity simulator. Mason and Jake Rohrig, both 2012 UW–Madison graduates, are competing for the AXE Apollo Space Academy.

It’s no secret that Badgers excel in everything from sports to science, finance to fashion. Now, two UW–Madison alumni have hopes of bringing Badger pride to outer space.

Julie Mason and Jake Rohrig, both engineering mechanics and astronautics majors and class of 2012 graduates, are enrolled in the AXE Apollo Space Academy (AASA), a competition funded by AXE grooming products in which the company is looking to send “a few brave civilians” on a trip to space. Mason and Rohrig are among thousands of contestants from 60 different countries looking to be chosen for the mission.

Though the dream of becoming an astronaut is one many of us can relate to, for Mason and Rohrig it’s been a nearly lifelong endeavor. Mason says her passion for space exploration began after visiting Cape Canaveral and enrolling in Space Camp. Now an employee of NASA, Mason hopes to conduct scientific experiments in space and help make space travel accessible for others. Rohrig expressed similar feelings, but says he never thought his chance for space exploration could be funded by a brand like AXE.

Each contestant in the AASA competition must include a short explanation stating why they should be chosen, and winners will be selected based on popular vote. For this reason, these two contenders are urging their fellow Badgers to propel them into space (literally) by voting for them online. All that’s needed to vote for Julie Mason, Jake Rohrig, or any other AASA participant is an e-mail address. Voting is open until April 27.

Rohrig, who is currently in the top 20 contestants overall, says he doesn’t want to simply win the chance to go to space. “I feel compelled to keep working furiously to prove that a hardworking, dedicated Badger is capable of beating Internet ‘celebrities’ with the help of friends, family, and the support of a fantastic alma mater.”

Mason too is a proud Badger, stating that if she wins she will be sure to “represent the best school in the Big 10” by wearing her Badger gear in space.