This rocket wants to put your tweets in space

The Voices of Humanity Kickstarter project aims to put your messages, photographs and more into space as one step on the journey towards relativistic speeds.

Michelle Starr Science editor
Michelle Starr is CNET's science editor, and she hopes to get you as enthralled with the wonders of the universe as she is. When she's not daydreaming about flying through space, she's daydreaming about bats.
Michelle Starr
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Directed Energy

As fascinating as space is, it's a sad fact that most of the humans alive today will simply never get to experience it for themselves. In recent years, however, we've seen a movement towards getting at least some aspect of a human to space -- a time capsule to the stars, a more personal version of the Voyager Golden Record.

Now a team of scientists from the University of California, Santa Barbara want to send your tweets, DNA, photographs and stories to space on a revolutionary wafer-like spacecraft. The project is called Voices of Humanity, and it's currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, where your pledge will land you a spot on the chip going into space.

The team is professor Philip Lubin and engineering physics student Travis Brashears. You might recognise their names from research published in September last year, where they used lasers to direct the trajectory of a piece of basalt, demonstrating the feasibility of using the technology to propel rocks away from the Earth.

Voices of Humanity is the next step of this research. The long-term end goal is a small, wafer-like spacecraft that is propelled through space using directed energy, such as photons, at relativistic speed -- or speed that approaches the speed of light. This project, backed by NASA, will hopefully push humanity towards interstellar exploration.

But first, Lubin and Brashears have to demonstrate that the wafer spacecraft is feasible. By creating the Voices of Humanity project, this is what they hope to do -- as well as generate public interest and emotional investment in the research.

The 10-centimetre (four-inch) diameter wafer satellite will be sent up with a rocket in 2017 to low-Earth orbit. Subsequent missions plan to get the Humanity Chip, as Lubin and Brashears are calling it, farther and farther from Earth, ending in interstellar travel.

"Our long-term goal is to enable the first interstellar missions and to eventually place the Voices of Humanity chips on those missions as emissaries of the Earth. It is a modern-day 'ark' or 'time capsule'," Brashears said.

Pledges start at $1 to get a tweet included on the chip. So if you ever wanted to tell the aliens to phone home, check out the Voices of Humanity Kickstarter campaign, where you can also find more information on the project.