If you've always wanted a personal souvenir from space but have no friends in NASA's astronaut corps or can't afford to spend millions of dollars getting into space yourself, then a new service from startup company ZeroG may be for you.
ZeroG will send small personal items into space starting at $49. The company's first launch will take place on May 20th from the new Southwest Regional Spaceport in New Mexico.
"There are very few people who have anything in their possession that has been to space and back. If you're interested in space, it's exciting," said company co-founder Tom Gonser.
"Unless an astronaut has already carried it up there, you can legitimately say that any type of small item put on this rocket is the first time the thing has been in space," said ZeroG spokesperson Mark Benhard.
The company sells titanium rings and small boxes which can be used to carry trinkets into space. Customers are also sending in their own items, Gonser said. Many have sent in business cards; a school is sending film as part of an experiment to study cosmic rays; some have sent in pictures of loved ones, stamps, even ashes; Gonser's wife is sending up her wedding ring.
The items will be packed into an aluminum capsule and launched into space aboard a sub-orbital rocket developed by UP Aerospace. The rocket will blast off from New Mexico's Southwest Regional Spaceport at 4,000 mph (6,400 kph) and reach space in less than 2 minutes. The rocket and its payload will be weightless for approximately 7 minutes before falling back to Earth, where the payload will be retrieved.
Following each trip, items are returned to customers, along with detailed information about the flight and a certificate of authentication. People who send items will also have their names entered into the International Space Registry as having successfully delivered items into space.
ZeroG's first payload is currently 60 percent full and the company is still taking request. Another launch is scheduled for the fall and the company expects to perform 2 or 3 launches per year after that.
More information can be found here at ZeroG's website.