Want to join two NASA astronauts on SpaceX's first manned mission? Now you can – to an extent.
SpaceX is accepting contributions for a giant mosaic of images, which will be printed out and sent up on the SpaceX Crew Dragon's first manned mission. Teslarati notes that the portrait photos of people will join astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, when the pair lift off inside the capsule on May 27.
The launch, scheduled for 4:33 p.m. Eastern time, will lift off from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It marks a key milestone in the NASA Commercial Crew program, which has been working with Boeing and SpaceX to bring manned launches back to the United States. Since the shuttle program ended in 2011, NASA has been renting seats on Soyuz rockets taking off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
The mission could pave the way for a number of more ambitious plans. NASA plans to use the capsules to ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station, powering new scientific research. SpaceX is working on its own manned missions, using the Starship to send up to 100 humans into space at a time. The Starship's fully-reusable design could ferry humans to the moon, Mars, and even beyond thanks to its fuel that can be harvested from other planets.
The mosaic is a big chance to join Behnken and Hurley for the groundbreaking mission, but there's just one catch. Photo submissions are only available for students that either graduated or are scheduled to graduate this year. That's because, as the website explains, the project is being held "in an effort to celebrate the class of 2020 – from kindergarten to graduate school."
The other catch is there isn't much time left to add your photo. Entrants will have until Wednesday, May 20, to complete their submissions ahead of the big launch seven days later. Printing takes time!
It's not the first time SpaceX will have sent up a cultural artifact into space. One of the firm's most famous launches was the Falcon Heavy test launch in February 2018, the first launch for what is currently the world's most powerful operational rocket. The firm sent up Musk's red Tesla Roadster, complete with a slew of artifacts including a "5D quartz laser storage device." The device, produced by the Arch Mission Foundation, included Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy of books. It's designed to orbit the Sun for 30 million years.
To join up, here's what to do.
SpaceX Crew Dragon: how to send your photo into space
Assuming you meet the criteria, getting your photo submitted is straightforward.
- Visit SpaceX's specially-designed site.
- Press the "add your photo" button.
- Write in your email address and your school.
- Press the "take or browse for a photo" button to search for your perfect shot.
Your photo will be joining Behnken and Hurley on the mission, and the mosaic itself is viewable on the company's website. Users can pan and zoom into photos, sharing individual shots with sharing buttons for Facebook, Twitter, and direct links.
And that's it! Assuming your photo makes the final cut, you can watch your photo go up during the livestream on NASA TV. Coverage is set to start on the day of the launch at 12:15 p.m. Eastern time, just a few hours before the liftoff.