The names will be put on a dime-sized microchip which will then be aboard NASA’s new Orion spacecraft for test flights and future missions. The first test flight is tentatively scheduled for December 4 and will consist of a 4.5 hour-long orbiting of Earth in order to test the craft’s systems. During the two-orbit mission, the Orion spacecraft will fly into Earth’s atmosphere at speeds which will come close to 20,000 mph and endure temperatures in the 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit range before its splashdown in the Pacific Ocean, according to a NASA press release. Following that, Orion will be sent on additional “exploration flights and missions to Mars,” with the submitted names on-board.
To submit their name, interested parties need to go to NASA’s name-collection site and fill out an online form with some basic information. This will generate a digital boarding pass that can be printed or shared on social media. The deadline for the name submission is October 31 for those who wish to have their name on the test flight and future flights and missions. Beyond the 31st, names may still be submitted for future flights and missions.
Though the United States represents the largest collection of names, with more than one million submitted, the U.K. and India are are in second and third place, with more than 22,000 and more than 21,000, respectively. Other nations represented in the name submissions include China, Pakistan, Philippines and Canada.
This is not the first time the public has had a chance to send a part of themselves into space. Space.com reports that Celestis, Inc has been offering a memorial spaceflight service for a number of years. Star Trek creator Gene Rodenberry was honored with a portion of his ashes being sent into space by the company in 1997. The ashes of other individuals were also on board. Then, in 2012 another memorial was created with the ashes of Rodenberry’s wife and Star-Trek star, Majel Roddenberry, alongside more of Gene’s ashes.
James Doohan, Montgomery “Scotty” Scott of the Star Trek franchise was also memorialized by the company with his ashes launched into space in 2007.
(Photo courtesy of NASA)