WASHINGTON: Over 2.8 lakh people from around the world, including 21,729 Indians, have so far submitted their names to be inscribed on a NASA microchip that will eventually fly to Mars.
NASA is giving people a chance to shoot their names up into space on the first Orion mission, scheduled to launch December 4, and then eventually to the Red Planet.
Currently, 2,80,429 people have submitted their names to fly into space.
The highest number of names submitted to NASA so far from a single country - a total of 1,13,121 - comes from the USA while the third-largest submission of names is from India, with 21,729 space enthusiasts from the nation giving their names.
Other countries with high participation include UK (22,491 names), Philippines (9,869 names) and Canada (7,760 names). Currently, only 1,828 names have been submitted from China and 1,620 from Pakistan.
The collected names will be included on a microchip the size of a dime. The first trip will be on board NASA's initial test flight for the new Orion spacecraft. It is set for a 4.5-hour mission in orbit around Earth.
It will then take a flying leap back through the atmosphere and land in the Pacific Ocean, 'cnet.com' reported.
Orion is designed to one day carry astronauts on long missions to visit asteroids and Mars. When people sign up to send their name off into space on Orion, they are signing up to send their name to Mars at some future time.
"After returning to Earth, the names will fly on future NASA exploration flights and missions to Mars. With each flight, selected individuals will accrue more miles as members of a global space-faring society," NASA said.
To sign up, users have to go to NASA's name-collecting site, fill out some basic information, and submit. The site then generates a digital "boarding pass."
The deadline for getting your name on Orion's inaugural flight is October 31.