You may not be able to squeeze your whole body ontoNASA's last two space shuttle missions in history, but your face can go ? at nocharge. All it takes is a digital photo and a few clicks of the mouse.
NASA is collecting digital photos and names from the publicto launch on the two finalspace shuttle missions scheduled before the famed reusablespace planes retire for good. The photographs and names can be uploaded to anew website under the "Face in Space" program.
"The Space Shuttle Program belongs to the public,and we are excited when we can provide an opportunity for people to share the adventureof our missions," NASA's space shuttle program chief John Shannon said ina statement. "This website will allow you to be a part of history andparticipate as we complete our final missions."
NASA's next shuttle mission is slated to launch on Sept.16 aboard Discovery, the oldest space shuttle in the three-orbiter fleet. Thatmission will deliver a robot assistant (called Robonaut2)to the International Space Station along with a cargo pod refitted to serve asa permanent closet for the orbiting lab.
The U.S. space agency's final shuttle flight will beonboard Endeavour, the fleet's youngest spaceship. That mission is set tolaunch no earlier than Nov. 27 to deliver a $1.5 billion astrophysicsinstrument to hunt for antimatter galaxies and other phenomena in universe.
So far, NASA has launched 132 space shuttle missionssince the fleet first began flying in April 1981. The most recent mission, theSTS-132 mission last month, marked the 32nd and final mission for the spaceshuttle Atlantis.
NASA is retiring its space shuttle program after nearly30 years to make way for a more ambitious plan of sending astronauts to visitan asteroid by 2025 and then move on to Mars.
The space agency plans to rely on commercialspaceships and rockets to launch American astronauts and cargomissions to the space station once the shuttle fleet retires. U.S. PresidentBarack Obama has called for the cancellation of NASA's initially plannedpost-shuttle program Constellation, which aimed to send astronauts back to themoon.
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Space shuttle hitchhikers can submit theirphotos or names for NASA's "Face in Space" program at the website:http://faceinspace.nasa.gov/
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Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of Space.com and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at Space.com and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.