Nasa invites public to sign up for free space ‘boarding pass’

New Orion spacecraft will take names on microchips on first flight in December

The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket in preparation for the first flight test of Nasa’s new Orion spacecraft at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Photograph: Mike Brown/Reuters

The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket in preparation for the first flight test of Nasa’s new Orion spacecraft at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Photograph: Mike Brown/Reuters

 

People are being invited to sign up for a free “boarding pass” for trips into space. The plan is to start small with orbital flights but will later involve flights to Mars.

The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration is behind the scheme which is linked to its new Orion spacecraft. It is expected to bring humans back into space for travel to far-flung destinations including the Red Planet.

And Nasa wants us all along for the ride. Sort of. It is inviting people to send in their names for inclusion in a penny-sized microchip that will be carried on Orion’s first flight planned for December 4th.

At time of publishing just over 114,000 people have signed up for their “boarding pass” that will bring their name into space for a two-orbit flight and a splash-down in the Pacific Ocean.

The names will also fly on future Nasa exploration flights including missions to Mars. “When we set foot on the Red Planet, we’ll be exploring for all of humanity,” says Mark Geyer, Orion programme manager. “Flying these names will enable people to be part of our journey.”

Nasa is using the web to collect names and social media to help promote it (#JourneyToMars). Sending your name isn’t quite like flying yourself, but then there will be no question of space flight sickness and you don’t have to worry about getting your feet wet in cold Pacific waters. Don’t delay as the closing date to add your name is October 31st.

Submit your name to fly on Orion’s test flight by visiting go.usa.gov/vcpz and learn more about Orion at nasa.gov/orion.