When we saw the 3-D video of Mars earlier this year, we were ready to hop on the next spacecraft to see it for ourselves! We’re not quite able to do that just yet, but there is a way you can be part of NASA’s mission to Mars right now: You can have your name included on a microchip that will be sent into outer space.
The program began in 2014 with the Exploration Flight Test-1, when the Orion spacecraft took the first batch of names on a 4.5-hour, two-orbit mission around Earth. It then traveled back at speeds approaching 20,000 miles per hour and temperatures around 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and splashed down into the Pacific Ocean.
Now, names are being collected for the InSight mission, which is scheduled to launch in May 2018 and return that November.
Your name will be there as InSight conducts the first investigation of the deep interior of Mars.
Astronaut Mae Jemison said in an interview with us last year, “I believe the biggest impediment we have right now with going to Mars is public commitment. More people need to see themselves as a part of space travel, we need to see more inclusiveness.”
Orion Program manager Mark Geyer said the names project can help people be part of that mission.
You have until November 1st to sign up to have your name included on the InSight mission and receive your “boarding pass.” If you miss that deadline, names will still be accepted to be taken on later flights. NASA also keeps track of your “frequent flyer” points, so you will be able to find out how far your name has traveled on subsequent flights.