University of Leicester space scientist signs up to NASA’s latest initiative – and so can you…

Posted by er134 at Oct 22, 2014 12:10 PM |
Professor of Astrophysics and Space Science Professor Martin Barstow takes part in a public project to blast more than one million names into orbit

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 22 October 2014

A University of Leicester astrophysicist has signed up to a NASA initiative which invites members of the public to be part of the upcoming Orion space craft test launch.

Professor Martin Barstow, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Head of the College of Science and Engineering, Professor of Astrophysics and Space Science and the President of the Royal Astronomical Society is encouraging people to follow in his footsteps and sign up online and have their names blasted into orbit.

He is one of more than one million of people who have registered for the scheme in which participants complete an online registration form which will see their names etched onto a microchip and placed aboard the Orion craft.

NASA is asking people to register for the scheme before 31 October, and it will coincide with the launch of Orion on 4 December – the agency’s first foray into manned spaceflight since it cancelled its shuttle programme in 2011.

Anyone who signs up will see their names journey into orbit on Orion before returning back to Earth as part of the craft’s first test launch.

The names will be kept on record and eventually visit Mars - Orion’s long term goal.

Like Professor Barstow, anyone who signs up will receive an online “boarding pass” to show their participation in the event.

He said: “The first human trip to Mars might be several decades away, but the journey is starting now as NASA prepares for the first flight of its new Orion spacecraft.

“This marks a return to human spaceflight for NASA, after the space shuttle programme was closed down.

“Unlike the shuttle, Orion is being designed to go beyond Earth orbit and out into the further reaches of the Solar System.

“Anyone can be involved in this exciting journey by registering for their name to be sent into space on this first journey and eventually to Mars.

“This is an exciting chance for everyone to be involved in the next steps in human space exploration.”

Orion will launch from Florida’s Cape Canaveral base, in December, and spend four-and-a-half hours orbiting the Earth before re-entering the atmosphere at speeds of about 20,000mph and splash-landing back in the Pacific Ocean.

During its short time in orbit it will travel 3,600-miles into space - 15 times higher than the International Space Station (ISS) - to measure the levels of radiation that astronauts will have to endure.

But the test mission is just the beginning, and NASA hopes to have a manned Orion craft back in space which will one day visit the Red Planet.

“NASA is pushing the boundaries of exploration and working hard to send people to Mars in the future,” said Mark Geyer, Orion program manager. “When we set foot on the Red Planet, we’ll be exploring for all of humanity. Flying these names will enable people to be part of our journey.”

The deadline for receiving a personal 'boarding pass' on the Orion test flight is Friday 31 October.

To submit your name for the initiative, visit: http://go.usa.gov/vcpz

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