NASA is officially inviting you to send your name to Mars.The space agency said in a statement that the adventure will begin with the first Orion test flight scheduled for December 4, 2014. Your name will be included on a dime-sized microchip on Orion, which will travel to destinations beyond the low-Earth orbit, including Mars. Over 267,804 people have already signed up and received their “boarding pass.”
Get your boarding pass
NASA is currently preparing the Orion spacecraft for its first test flight. The test flight will take off on December 4 from Cape Canaveral. It will circle Earth a few times for 4.5 hours before a splashdown in the Pacific ocean. Orion is designed to carry astronauts to asteroids and Mars one day. You may not reach the Red Planet anytime soon, but your name can.
Go to this link, enter your name and a few other details and submit. The NASA website will then generate a “boarding pass” along with the message “Success! Your name will fly on Orion’s flight test.” And then your name will zip through the atmosphere in December with the test flight, and reach on Mars some day. But hurry, there is a deadline. The names will be accepted only until Halloween, October 31, 2014.
NASA wants to keep people engaged
Orion program manager Mark Geyer said the space agency is pushing the boundaries of space exploration. Flying these names to Mars will enable people to be part of the exploration. NASA will also track mileage for your names, giving you the “frequent flyer award points” for fun. It’s a way to keep people engaged with the ambitious mission.
But there is an alternative. Mars One, a Dutch company, last year announced that it was looking for volunteer astronauts to fly to the Red Planet. Its spacecraft is scheduled to depart in 2022 and land on Mars in 2023. Unfortunately, it’s a one-way mission. There is no technology for a return mission. Still, tens of thousands of people have volunteered for its program. The company estimates that it would need $6 billion to fund the mission.