Your Name in Space

So you’ve bought your little corner of the universe through the International Star Registry, but you want more to give yourself a chance at immortality.

After all, in 5 billion years, when our sun is in its last throes, the name of your star won’t be worth the paper its printed on, because the paper itself will be incinerated.

What you want is a record for someone else — or something else — to find, an intergalactic message in a bottle that says, I was here.

Now, thanks to NASA and the Kepler mission, you can have just that:

Finally, the chance for your name to be carried into space has come.

When the Kepler Mission rockets away from Earth, a DVD containing perhaps millions of human names will be on board.

"This mission will provide our first knowledge of Earth-like planets beyond our solar system," said Kepler Mission principal investigator William Borucki.

The Kepler Mission is scheduled for launch in February 2009 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. There is no limit to the number of names that can be submitted, officials said.

At the end of this year – in November – the Name in Space DVD will be mounted on the exterior of the spacecraft. A video of the DVD being mounted on the spacecraft will be taken and posted on the Kepler Mission Web site before the spacecraft is shipped to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in December.

"It’s a way for the public to participate in our space program," said David Koch, deputy principal investigator for the Kepler Mission. "We’re looking for several million names. … The only limitation is people’s interest."

A copy of the DVD with all of the names and messages will also be given to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

You can submit your name for free on the Kepler Mission website, where you can also learn more about the spacecraft and the mission:

The Kepler photometer is a simple single purpose instrument. It is basically a Schmidt telescope design with a 0.95-meter aperture and a 105 deg2 (about 12 degree diameter) field-of-view (FOV). It is pointed at and records data from just a single group of stars for the four year duration of the mission. …

An Earth-trailing heliocentric orbit with a period of 372.5 days provides the optimum approach to meeting of the combined Sun-Earth-Moon avoidance criteria within the Boeing D2925-10 (Delta-II) launch vehicle capability (launch videos). In this orbit the spacecraft slowly drifts away from the Earth and is at a distance of 0.5 AU (worst case) at the end of four years.  Telecommunications and navigation for the mission are provided by NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN).

And for a better understanding of the craft your name will eternally be sailing (or at least drifting) upon, check out the video above from YouTube.