December 9, 2004 12:20 PM PST

I married a Java developer from outer space!

One of these days, Alice. Pow! To the moon.

Database giant Oracle is taking a cue from Ralph Kramden and promising to send one lucky developer into space.

The company began a sweepstakes this week to find the sharpest developer working with Oracle tools. The main prize is a suborbital space flight to 62 miles above the Earth's surface via Space Adventures, the company that pioneered off-planet tourism.

Participants have to register at the Oracle Space Sweepstakes site before they can begin completing a series of quizzes designed to test knowledge of Java programming, service-oriented architecture, or SOA, and other subjects dear to Oracle. Each quiz is accompanied by tutorials and downloadable trial versions of Oracle developer tools, which you'll probably need to spend some time with to answer the questions correctly.

"We're trying to encourage developers to download the technology and look at the tools," said Rick Schultz, vice president of product marketing for application server and developer tools. "You really need to try the technology."

A new quiz will be released every three weeks until May 31, and each passing score counts as a contest entry, increasing your chances of winning.

You don't have to be a professional Oracle developer to compete, but a science background may help by the time the subject matter gets around to "Designing BPEL Processes with BPEL Process Manager."

Those who'd rather skip the quizzes and toss their name straight into the contestant pool can just send a postcard to Oracle Space Sweepstakes, P.O. Box 4021 Grand Rapids, Minn. 55730-4021.

If you do win the big prize, the contest rules note, you'll need to sign a lulu of a liability waiver and submit an affidavit from your doctor testifying that you're medically fit to fly. The exact date of the trip depends on Space Adventures' launch schedule, but it'll happen sometime in 2006. As a bonus, Schultz promised that Oracle CEO Larry Ellison will not be joining the winner.

Space Adventures made headlines three years ago when it launched businessman Dennis Tito into orbit for a fee of $20 million, making him the first space tourist. The company has since attracted a number of competitors looking to privatize space flight, most notably Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne, which earlier this year won the $10 million Ansari X Prize for successfully building and flying a reusable launch vehicle.

British entrepreneur and adventurer Richard Branson has also entered the fray with his new Virgin Galactic venture.

 

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