KAMLOOPS, B.C.–Karen Nairn is the talk of her town. The 38-year-old London Drugs pharmacist from Kamloops, B.C., has won a trip into space.

Nairn was one of two women chosen randomly from among 15,000 Zellers employees and customers across Canada as part of a contest to help raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

In 2003, the pair are scheduled to take a three-hour flight aboard a private civilian space shuttle departing from the United States. “I was really surprised,” says Nairn. “It’s something I never thought I would do.”

The nervous mother of three says she needs some time to think about her prize and the training that’s required. She says she’d also like the opportunity to talk to the other winner, a 46-year-old Zellers salesperson from Windsor, Ontario.

A tourism company in Washington, D.C., called Space Adventures Ltd., is marketing the flights on board a shuttle being built by Vela Technology. The company plans to put the first paying travellers in space in 2002.

But there’s no guarantee that the flight will take place. Although the technology is in place, a lack of funds may prevent the six-seater civilian shuttle from being built. If the flight is cancelled, both winners may claim their $150,000 prize in cash.